Arjun Rampal plays the lead role of Arun Gawli, a real life gangster, in Daddy, a biopic centred around the dark and dreaded underbelly of the booming metropolis of Mumbai. Mumbaikars are well-versed with the rise of the don of Dagdi Chawl. The one-time henchman of Dawood Ibrahim who later broke away from him to form his own gang has been portrayed convincingly by an almost unrecognisable Arjun Rampal in the movie.
While an attempt has been made to show the human side of the dreaded gangster, there is also an effort to show the transition the feared gangster made from the dark underworld to politics. The narrative of Daddy is almost sluggish throughout the duration of the movie despite his interesting life story.
One feels the need for the plot to focus more on his cold-blooded killings and other gangster making moments rather than the overemphasis placed on him being a family man. Arjun Rampal, however still manages to be impressive in parts as gangster Arun Gawli. He nails his body language and makes the character’s transition from grimy places to glittering bars seem effortless.
Daddy’s winning moments are with the portrayal of the city and its landscape. Director Ashim Ahluwalia has done a great job in creating the look and the feel of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s era. The movie takes us through the political transition of the city which changed when several mill-workers in Mumbai were forced to resort to any means necessary to make a quick buck after losing their jobs. One of these was matka-gambling which turned into a stepping stone for many to get into the vortex of crime in the city. Gawli happened to be one of the unfortunate few who got into the business. He later began working for Dawood’s gang. Further the clash of ideologies and the power struggles between the various gangs are also shown.
As expected, the police figure in the plot as well. We see a cop called Vijaykar Nitin played by Nishikant Kamat that is always in hot pursuit of Gawli. The rest of the supporting cast in the movie has also done a convincing job. Farhan Akhtar makes a special appearance as a character called Maksud Bhai who does get a bit of screen time. There is also a side-plot about the love story of the gangster and his now wife Asha Gawli played by Aishwarya Rajesh.
All in all, Daddy is a one time watch for the sake of Arjun Rampal and Nishikant Kamat’s acting in the movie and for the sake of a closer look at gangster Arun Gawli’s part in India’s crime-history. It is perhaps the closest one can come to understanding the life of the gangster.