REVIEW: ‘David’ Has A Strong Idea, But An Overcooked Screenplay

In the end, Bejoy Nambiar's 'David' forces one to the lean on the cliché – more style, less substance.
In the end, Bejoy Nambiar's 'David' forces one to the lean on the cliché – more style, less substance.

Three Davids in three different decades – the first is a gangster circa 1975 in London, the second the son of a preacher man in Mumbai circa 1999, and the third an drunk searching for love in Goa in 2010. Writer-director Bejoy Nambiar’s screenplay jumps between these three unconnected narratives about the differing destinies of three men seemingly bound together by one element – their name.

Black and white scenes tell you that you are in London of the 70s, following the story of that David (Neil Nitin Mukesh) who is a gangster’s henchmen. Rain-washed scenes tell you that you are now in musician David’s (Vinay Virmani) chawl in Mumbai and bright sunlight and vibrant colours transport you to David’s (Vikram) Goa. Different years, different lives, a different conflict, but you soon realize each one’s Achilles Heel is a tenuous relationship with the father.

Nambiar has used three different cinematographers, a variety of musical genres and brought together a varied cast. This includes talented actors like Tabu and Vikram on one hand, followed by Mukesh (delivers a surprisingly measured performance), Monica Dogra and Isha Sharvani alongside and weak links like Virmani in the middle story.

Visually lush, sonically superb, David has a strong idea but an overcooked screenplay. The director takes inordinately long wrapping up each story, eking out every track to the brink of boredom. While the first and third chapters are better formed, acted and executed, the story of David in Mumbai is the loosest – It’s the weakest in writing and performances. The Goa story is held together by Vikram’s wonderful performance and the consistently good Tabu. But that story is also stretched out of shape, with some strange surreal elements stuck in.

You can’t help wondering how the usually efficient editor Sreekar Prasad let the film pass with this much excess. But within the flab, there are moments that are truly engaging, well executed and show Nambiar’s talent, first seen in Shaitan. His women are strong; his men vulnerable. His supporting cast — Rohini Hattangadi, Milind Soman, Neil Bhoopalam, Nishan Nanaiah and Sheetal Menon – makes even their smallest scenes interesting. But in the end David forces one to the lean on the cliché – more style, less substance.

Rating: **1/2