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23 April 2024

Movie Review: Vikram gives ‘David’ a menacing twist

By Sneha May Francis

Two men, each with the same name (David), journey through two different time periods and face varied life experiences only to unite in a strange, sacred end.

Bejoy Nambiar’s ‘David’ is supremely unconventional, yet there’s something magical and comforting about his story. It’s only during the last 10 minutes, when he isn’t able to comprehensibly connect the two lives that one feels a tad letdown.

That said, ‘David’ isn’t a wasted attempt. It celebrates the ordinary in such indulgent frames that are often titled and turned at striking angels to texture the narrative with poetic overtones.

There’s flamboyance in every shot that captures the two Davids – one set in 1999 Mumbai and the other, in 2010 Goa – into one storyline.

The lopsided shifting between the years does get tedious and, often unsettling, but Namibar holds on without denting the spirit of ‘David’.

His story focuses on two Davids, who are unlinked in their life pursuits, yet connected in their idealistic desires.

While one is a drunken fisherman, who nurtures the hope of marrying his best friend’s deaf-and-mute fiancé, the other is a struggling guitarist, who dreams of breaking away from his Christian father’s frugal life into a world of fame and richness.

In their hunt for life’s best, the two are influenced abundantly by numerous characters. Some in fleeting appearances, while the others more impactful.

It’s the two David’s respective fathers who play huge prominence in inculcating ethics and nurturing in them the spirit to face life’s adversaries confidently.

Vikram gives a menacing twist to the love-struck Goan David, who plots and plans inane, sometimes deadly, ways to win over his ‘lover’.

His ‘crazy Santa’ secret is outrageous, but one that Vikram pulls off with endearing charm. Even his drunken rendezvous with his dead father, whose spirit locks into the bodies of priests, nurses or young boys is delightfully hilarious.

Vikram owns the audaciously charming rogue and makes his crazy adventures enthralling; from bruising brides on their wedding day, to blindly following his massage-parlour-owner friend Frenny’s advices on love, to torturing his mother to give in to his love demands, there’s very little that he wouldn’t do to get what he believes is his.

And, ‘David’ for most parts, owes it to Vikram for turning it into something impudently wicked.

The initial scene where he’s busy knocking down men and cracking bottles into their heads in a seedy bar, soon after punching down an elderly lady, only to be reprimanded by his robust mom who slams him into submission, is evidence of how he’s crude in temperament yet willing to be subdued in front of his mother.

Jiiva as the younger David, who struggles to make his mark in the music world, is equally outstanding.

He’s earnest in his efforts and allows his innocence to mould the ‘David’ of the 1990s, who tutors guitar-hopefuls to make an extra buck, and mindlessly gobbles hotel food after playing in their band only to avoid the staple ‘idlis’ at his home.

It’s only when his father is violently harmed by religious fundamentalists over claims of ‘conversion’ that his conflicts begin to surface. Unable to stomach the banalities of politics and its religious manipulations, David pursues the “bad guys” to find the answer.

Jiiva brilliantly essays the contradictions that surface after his middle-class family is harmed, and he’s jolted into rebellion.

Nambiar does overindulge at times, puncturing the storyline with unnecessary sub-plots and quirky situations, but quickly recovers and gets back into the grove.

He’s also guilty of overburdening us with characters, who never really offer much to the plot.

Lara Dutta as the widowed-guitar student appears the weakest, and most irrelevant.

Both the fathers – Nassar as the devout preacher Father Abraham and Saurabh Shukla as the dorky intoxicated ghost – are aptly portrayed.

Nassar is most striking in a scene, where his broken soul emerges when he tries to step out of his room after being attacked. The scars he inflicts on himself while shaving is hard-hitting and pained. Only an actor of his caliber could essay his weakness without overplaying it.

Although she’s got just a few minutes of screen-time, Tabu leaves us with a lasting impression as the breezy Freny. Her chats with the impish ‘David’ are truly entertaining and enchanting.

Despite teeny parts, Isha Sharvani lends credibility to the voiceless Roma, while Shweta Pandit and Sheetal Menon give their musician brother a strong backing.

If anyone, it’s Neil Nitin Mukesh, whose portrayal of the ‘third’ David gets cut out of the Tamil version.

Despite its many downfalls and a rather unbefitting end, ‘David’ is a brave movie that must be endorsed.