Bijoy Nambiar’s follow up to the acclaimed Shaitan is not the edgy thriller we were expecting but thriller-comedy-drama on sacrifice and the choice between right and wrong. It is tough to categorise this movie as anything other than experimental. There are occasional laughs, reasonably good performances and a decent story that feels good in completion but can leave the viewer who is watching it confused for a long stretch. We couldn’t shake off the ‘where is this going’ feeling till well into the second half.
David is a movie that speaks the story of three men named David in three different eras. London David, Neil Nitin Mukesh, lives in a black and white portrayal of 1975 is the shadow of gangster Abdul Ghani who is wanted dead by the Indian establishment for terrorist activities. Cut to 1999 to meet Mumbai David, Vinay Virmani, who is the musician son of a pastor, teaches Lara Dutta the guitar and dreams of making it big in the music industry. Finally, the camera moves to a small beach shack in Goa where Goa David, Chiyaan Vikram, spends his life in a drunk stupor, riding on his scooter with his best friend Peter, talking to the ghost of his dead father and..er..beating up brides and groom at weddings because he got left at the altar.
This confusing mix of characters tumbles along in the first half, building up their stories. London David discovers the Indian agents trying to kill his mentor, Abdul Ghani, and learns certain facts about Ghani that make him question his loyalty. The proceedings in this plotline are lit up by his love interest, Noor [Monica Dogra] who gives a commendable performance.
Mumbai David is just about to leave for the US when a local politician leads a mob against his Christian priest father accusing him of forcible conversions. This leads Mumbai David on a quest of reckless anger as he tries to understand why this has happened and decide what to do with what he learns.
Compared to these two plots, Goa David seems to have it absolutely easy. He provides the laughs as he falls in love with deaf-mute Roma, Isha Sharvani, who his best friend Peter is in love with. Goa David is convinced Roma loves him and plots hilariously to get her hand in marriage. He is provided love advice by his friend Frenny [Tabu]. This plot line, although funny, is the only weak section of the plot. Although the raw performances by Vikram and Tabu light up the screen, they could have had a much stronger story to portray.
The acting on the whole is above average, with Neil Nithin Mukesh really shining. Of the women, only Isha Sharvani seems to not have done a great job, but then, we’re comparing her to Tabu. There are a whole host of other capable actors such as Satish Kaushik, Lara Dutta and Sarika who are not used at all. The cinematography, especially in Goa and the black and white portrayal of London, are superb. The music blends in perfectly with the story and is never intrusive. The transitions between the three stories are never disorienting, allowing viewers to fully grip every nuance of the plot.
This is definitely not a movie for everyone’s taste, even in our office we’re divided as to whether it was good, bad or decent. But if you would like a change from the regular Bollywood fare and a story you can dig into, then David might just be to your liking.