Rishi Kapoor plays 'India's Most Wanted Man' (modelled on Dawood Ibrahim, the hint is in the title I guess). Which is a good thing, considering that Kapoor is in the most interesting phase of his career now. And his most accomplished.
They've named the character Goldman here, and four RAW agents under the guidance of RAW chief Ashwini (Nasser, excellent) are all set to accomplish Operation Goldman. The idea is to catch the criminal alive in Pakistan and bring him to Indian soil.
In a humorous interjection, when asked if he has sent his agents to Pakistan to nab Goldman, the chief responds, 'But Pakistan insists he is not in their country. And to find someone who does not exist, well, we are not that advanced.'
Once set in motion, the film insists on giving you an annoying update every few minutes. Like: '2 hours before Operation Goldman', and '4 hours after Operation Goldman' etcetera.
So the story takes off when Goldman - the paunchy, rose-tinted glasses wearing don - is hell-bent on attending his son's wedding. The ISI, certain that there's going to be an attack on him, try their best to warn him. (Yes, the film shows a direct co-operation between the ISI and, er, Goldman.) Our RAW agents are ready for the kill. What happens after, forms the second half of the film.
The Operation is big and the preparations have taken years. One of the agents, Wali (Irrfan Khan), was sent to Pakistan nine years ago, the other, Rudra (Arjun Rampal), comes to Karachi especially for the Operation, joined by Zoya (Huma Qureshi), who is an explosives expert, and petty criminal Aslam (Aakash Dahiya), who is helping with the operation to make up for jail time.
The film has as many gaffes as it does interesting moments. It is ridiculous to see RAW agents roaming the markets, not using even a hint of disguise, when the Pakistani authorities are gunning for them.
And it's even sillier to see the agents capturing a criminal and letting him have a free hand. They don't handcuff or gag him, but let him sit there, free to talk his nonsense or use his hands to attack them.
But then again, the monologue towards the end is quite exciting, tinged with black humour. This is the part where Kapoor really shines. He's the undisputed scene-stealer in the film.
Irrfan is brilliant in this role as an agent stuck in a dilemma, and Arjun Rampal is interesting to watch as the hot-headed army man-turned-agent, Huma Qureshi is masterful and restrained, while Aakash Dahiya is very good in his brief but effective role.
Shruti Haasan leaves a mark in her brief role and Sriswara as Irrfan's wife with her unconventional looks and talent is one to watch out for.
The film could have followed a straight narrative, but adopts the non-linear style, going back and forth in time to look cool. This causes you to revisit some scenes unnecessarily and you tend to get a bit lost in the middle.
The film is also guilty of killing the Dama Dam Mast Kalandar by making Rajpal Yadav perform it without any essence of the beauty of the song. But the songs are essentially beautiful. Alvida has been captured beautifully even if it glamorises a gruesome murder. It is in these bursts that you notice Nikhil Advani's sense of style.
Most will remember Advani from his debut film Kal Ho Naa Ho. He went on to make Salaam-E-Ishq, Chandi Chowk to China, Patiala House and finally the animated Delhi Safari. And he comes back with D-Day, a completely alien genre for him.
Advani's strength lies in choosing the right cast and crew and extracting incredible work out of them. Having made candy-floss rom-coms and an animation so far, he is surprising comfortable with gore and action. (There are some gruesome scenes in the film and the action is superlative.)
Another admirable trait is his attempt at humanising the characters, who are tied between duty, honour and country, while also feeling for the ones they love.
With dialogue (Ritesh Shah and Niranjan Iyengar) that's seeti-inducing yet not over-the-top, Advani manages to present the film - based on an improbable event - with conviction.
One wishes he had been just as subtle towards the end, with the Indian flag fluttering and dialogue about 'hamare log' and a 'badla hua India'.
D-Day is a realistically shot, fantasy film. Fantasy because such unwavering (and foolish) agents, charismatic criminals, ambitious operations and miraculous outcomes exist only in the movies. It's fully filmi with the big story, stars, and dialoguebaazi.
This one is worth your time if you're fond of the crash, boom, bang genre.
Rating: 3 stars