The film is inspired by all those Delta Force dramas that depicted American forces landing on hostile borders and carrying out executions, extractions of people harmful to American interests. We know who India’s public enemy no. 1 is. His name is Dawood Ibrahim and it speaks of Advani’s maturity as an actor that Dawood isn’t mentioned by name in the film. Like Voldemort, his name is alluded to and not said aloud. He’s Goldman. A cancerous boil that has to be taken out at any cost.
The Indian intelligence activates a sleeper cell in Karachi to capture Goldman alive. At the helm of the affairs is Wali Khan (Irrfan Khan), a man who has gone so deep undercover that he starts believing his con. In his 10 years inside Pakistan, he’s acquired a wife (debutante Shriswara) and a son (Dwij). He loves them dearly and this love costs him at the end. Zoya Rehman (Huma Quereshi) is another flawed asset — an explosive expert whose marriage is on the rocks. Arjun Rampal plays Captain Rudra Pratap Singh, a hardened sniper who finds love in the arms of a prostitute (Shruti Hassan), a love that somewhat softens his core. Aslam (Aakash Dahiya), plays a small-time crook sent to infiltrate Goldman’s inner core and forms the fourth spoke of this deadly wheel.
Goldman’s extractions is planned to a T but there are errors even in most perfect plans. How the human element makes the plan go awry forms the crux of the story.
You need balanced performances to flesh out the somewhat sketchy storyline and thankfully, Advani has chosen his actors wisely. Irrfan in his element as the spy who has to lie constantly even to himself to stay alive in enemy territory. The only thing that keeps him sane is the very real love that he feels for his wife and his kid. Debutante Shriswara is the discovery of the film. Her take as the adoring wife is as real as it gets. Her every reaction is nuanced with meaning, her reactions natural and to the point. Advani has kept the romance between Shruti and Arjun to the minimal. Its more adoring glances and less dialogue with some graceful lovemaking thrown in between.
Rishi Kapoor plays Goldman as a manipulator supreme, someone who has always beaten the odds and survived and relies on his wits and guts to get on top every time. The pink aviators and retro suits add to the persona. Its easily one of the best performances of his career. Nasser as the RAW chief and KK Raina as his Pakistani counterpart look like real intelligence men and not the caricatures that we see in our films.
Cinematography by Tushar Kanti Ray is excellent and so is production design by Ritu Ghosh and Sukant Panigrahy, who have successfully recreated Karachi in Mumbai. Tom Struthers, the man behind the action sequences of Batman has been brought in to execute the stunts and the Hollywood style sequences stand out.
Overall, D-Day is one of the best hard-hitting action films to have come out of the Indian film industry. Kudos to Nikhil Advani for taking this plunge and making a thriller that packs an emotional punch as well.