Bijoy Nambiar’s ‘David’ which released on February 1, 2013, exhibits a dynamic operation of creativity, experimentation and a myriad of social as well as internal turbulences located within a gamut of human emotions. It documents the lives of three Davids from three different decades and places. Neil Nitin Mukesh plays the first David who is a Muslim gangster established inLondonin the year 1975. His story is narrated in a riveting black and white framework as designed by cinematographer Sanu Verghese. Vinay Virmani’s story is based in Mumbai in 1999 where he plays a guitarist aspiring to make his mark in the music industry when he is entangled in the doldrums of violence, unscrupulous politics and right wing fascism. Lastly, Vikram plays the third forever-tipsy David living inGoain 2010 with his mother (Rubi Chakravarti) and has a limited number of friends – his dead father (Saurabh Shukla) who guides him throughout the movie in very entertaining ways, Frenny (Tabu) the local masseur and Peter, whose girlfriend Roma (Isha Sharvani) David is in love with. All of the Davids reach those junctures in their lives where they have to take one life-changing decision.
All of the three stories effectively belong to three different genres. While Neil’s story has the ingredients of the retro gangster thriller vis-à-vis the traits of Shakespearean tragedies, a la, Julius Ceaser, Vinay Virmani’s plot and P. S. Vinod’s cinematography explore the psychological trauma that a family drama could unfold. Vikram’s narrative offers comic relief through its sharp humour and situations of pitiful errors set in a mundane yet idyllic Goarecreated by R. Rathnavelu. Nambiar continues to employ his music to work its charm whilst the story unfolds, just like we saw it doing in his first film, ‘Shaitan’. A fantastic version of the iconic song Damadam Mast Kalandar recreated by Micky Maccleary, sung by Rekha Bhardwaj and featuring Sarika plays behind crucial scenes thereby intensifying the moments in the movie. Lara Dutta, Nikhil Chinapa, Remo Fernandes, Prahlad Kakkar play surprising cameos as well. The female leads in the movie, Monica Dogra, Tabu and Isha Sharvani contribute with conviction though they have not been allowed justifiable spaces. It would not be wrong to say that the female leads hardly have a functional role in the film. Milind Soman, who plays a devout Muslim in the first story has no dialogues and emotes through his passionate eyes. Nassar and Rohini Hattangadi make their presence felt in spite of the short screen presence.
All the Davids are connected in their internal wars with ethics, compassion and the dislocation of the same. The Biblical David was a warrior and musician among other things and so are two of the Davids in the movie. On the other hand, while Peter was a fisherman, in the movie Vikram’s David plays a fisherman. We are then left with the intimation in the dialogue, Peter kabhi David nahi ban sakta (Peter cannot be David). Either way, each David continues to fight the Goliaths and with mentionable vividness and substance.
David falters due to its weak scripting. The conflict between passion and redemption at times gets diluted in extraneous evocations which delay the point Nambiar and co-writer Natasha Sahgal tries to make in the stories. Nevertheless, one can be guiltlessly appreciative of the different narrative, cinematographic brilliance and refined performances particularly by Neil and Vikram. David goes on to the records of the new wave Hindi cinema which shuns monolithic doctrines of secure regularity and technical traditionalism.