Reviewed By Abhishek Bandekar
Posted 06/03/05 23:02:05

"D for Company!"
3 stars (Average)

It becomes crystal-clear the moment we hear Makarand Deshpande’s voice-over at the beginning of Vishram Sawant’s directorial debut ‘D’, that what we have here is indeed a prequel(as the pre-release rumour mills suggested) to Ramgopal Varma’s ‘Company’. So what if the maverick Varma decides to call it a prequel in spirit, so what if the ageing don was Aslam Bhai in the earlier and is Hashim Bhai now and so what if the central character- Malik then, is the eponymous D or Deshu this time around! In essence, ‘D’ is the story of Malik’s rise to power until his fateful meeting with Chandu that took place in ‘Company’. The similarities don’t end there. There are many more, and for someone who’s seen and liked ‘Company’, it’s much easier to spot them. However, this review is not of ‘Company’. That was the past. The prequel is the present!

Post-Deshpande then, we are introduced to Deshu(Randeep Hooda). The son of a police constable, Deshu has just returned from Dubai(where he worked as a mechanic) to perform the last rites of his deceased mother. He is immediately brought to grips with the harsh reality of Mumbai courtesy two seminal incidents. First, he realizes the cavalier attitude towards a fellow human’s life when a passenger is thrown off a running train and nobody seems to notice it. His second realization comes when he witnesses a gang-war related murder and is pestered both by the law and the law-breakers. Deshu does a quick math and concludes that he’s better suited for the underworld. A meeting with mafia kingpin Hashim Bhai(Goga Kapoor) and an assassination of his rival Mangli Bhai, cement Deshu’s position in the gang. With a subservient aid Raghav(Chunky Pandey), Deshu manages to bring the whole city under his control. He does so not by enforcing the fear of the gun, but by sheer practical thinking and business-like brilliance. His interaction with Shankar Yadav, a Chembur-based gangster, is a revelation in mafia dealings! Upset at his meteoric rise are Hashim Bhai’s worthless sons, Shabbir(Yashpal Sharma) and Mukram(Sushant Singh). Mukram seems more bothered with the fact that Deshu has Bhakti Bhatnagar(Rukhsar), a rising starlet, as his arm-candy! Alongwith the scheming politician Tambe(Ishrat Ali), the two brothers plan to produce a systematic downfall of Deshu. Since we know and assume that Deshu will emerge victorious in this battle for supremacy, it is the road to that end which matters and forms the crux of the story.

However, this is precisely where the movie falters. Writer Manish Gupta uses all his resources pre-interval and that causes the movie to lose steam in the second half. Agreed, there are some riveting scenes in the latter half too(the Chunky-Isha-Sushant scene, the attack on Deshu and Bhakti, and the final resolution at Hashim Bhai’s place instantly come to mind), but they are more a testimony to good, crispy direction than writing. The film is also marred by an intrusive background score(Prasanna Shekhar) that is pointlessly incessant. Most of the dialogues have been poorly synced, but I guess last-minute censorship is the cause for it. And perhaps the biggest downer is the inclusion of the song Khudko Maar Dala which though possessing a raw energy is unnecessary and forced!

But you can always bet on Varma and his talented crew to save the day with something unique and novel. So where Karan Johar signs Shahrukh Khan for an item song in ‘Kaal’, Varma ropes in the diminutive Rajpal Yadav for Yaar Dhokebaaz- a strangely fascinating item number with Rukhsar! Another fresh aspect is the tackling of the underworld in Gujarat, hitherto an unexplored subject in gangster flicks. Furthermore, the movie gives Goga Kapoor a career-defining role. He surprises with his acting which only underlines the fact that there are many artists in Bollywood who haven’t been given their due! Randeep Hooda is impressive, but we’ll have to wait for a few more releases before we pass the verdict on him. His legato-style dialogue delivery serves the purpose in this film, but he’ll have to change it for other roles. At times, he reminds you of the young Nana Patekar. Chunky Pandey doesn’t seem to have aged since his ‘Tezaab’ days and he gives a more-than-satisfactory performance in this comeback. Rukhsar, also making a comeback, is porcelain-like while Isha Koppikar is wasted. Varma regulars Yashpal Sharma and Sushant Singh play their parts effectively, but it is smaller actors like Jeeva, Deepak Shirke and Ishrat Ali who leave their mark.

Inspite of all the plusses, ‘D’ still leaves you discontented. It could’ve probably been better with Varma himself at the helm, considering that he directed ‘Company’. That is not to say that Sawant has done a bad job. It’s just that the final product still feels like a Varma-wannabe!

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