Terror attacks have claimed many an innocent life and Kal Ho Naa Ho director Nikhil Advani is out to make a nation’s dream come true. The dream of capturing the most wanted man in India, Iqbal Seth (Rishi Kapoor), a character modelled on the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Four undercover R&AW agents plan and fail in the execution of a near perfect operation to nab the “Goldman” who is under the protection of Pakistan’s ISI. But, as is clear within the first 20 minutes into the film, the real intention of the makers is not to get hold of him at all. It is to put out there a story reeking of emotional drama, personal vendetta and fake patriotism. D-day starts off very realistically, but is painfully slowed down by forcefully stuffing in unnecessary family and love side tracks into the narrative.
The only believable one of them is the love and angst of Wali Khan (Irrfan Khan), a R&AW agent who has been leading a double life in Karachi for nine years and fears for the loss of his wife and son. Zoya Rehman (Huma Qureshi) is shown having short conversations with her husband, who is evidently unhappy with her job as an explosives expert, and Aslam (Dahiya), a murderer-turned-spy has no family whatsoever. The hottest man in the group, Rudra (Arjun Rampal), is introduced to us in a stunning Pathani suit, taking long strides with a herd of camels in the desert. We wonder why a suspended military man-turned-R&AW agent needs to walk camels other than for Advani to exploit his good looks in a Pathani suit in a wide-angle shot of the rustic desert! On similar lines of wastage of film reel is the love story between a Pakistani prostitute (Shruti Haasan) and Rudra.
This is a film with messed-up objectives. At least thrice before the climax, the team of four get very good chances to shoot the Goldman down, but they don’t. Why? Because Wali’s dreams of meting out justice to him in India stops them once. Or, because the next time Rudra is too busy taking revenge on Seth’s nephew, who tortured and killed the prostitute he fell in love with in four days of sharing her bed. Or, finally because they are all more interested in delivering long nonsensical speeches about patriotism.
D-Day is one of those films which would have worked better and would have been watchable if there was no second half at all. But what ultimately stand out in a not-so-impressive film are outstanding performances. Irrfan Khan, Huma Qureshi, Sriswara (as Irrfan’s wife) and Nasser portray their respective parts with complete earnestness. In scenes involving the dark, broody lovers, Rampal and Haasan, the audience is put to a patience test as neither of them can convey what is going on in the character’s mind. While Haasan keeps her lips apart trying to be seductive for most of her screen time, Rampal is gritting his teeth through all of his. Rishi Kapoor, in his rose-tinted glasses (a metaphor so bad that the makers feel the need to explain it), is convincing as the Dawood Ibrahim-esque don and sometimes surprises you with a funny one-liner or two.
Except for the erstwhile Qawwali number Duma Dum Mast Kalandar and the stylish Dhuaan, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is not put to good use in the film. Thanks to cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray (of Dhobhi Ghat fame), there is a raw look to the visuals of D-Day. But the huge gaps in the storyline and unjustifiable diversions in the plot ensure that the final product is nowhere close to the racy, thrilling trailer of the film. It does not take a genius to understand why Advani is not able to pull it off convincingly. A rented DVD of his Akshay Kumar-starrers Chandni Chowk to China or Patiala House will put all your doubts to rest. And, as for D-Day, it has nothing new to offer on cross-border terrorism, Dawood Ibrahim, Indian spies or, for that matter, even about Pakistani prostitutes.
Director: Nikhil Advani
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Huma Qureshi, Akash Dahiya, Nasser, Rishi Kapoor