India 2005
Directed by Vishram Sawant.

"D" is for Deshu, son of a cop, who rises up the ranks in the Bombay underground to become a kingpin of crime. 'D' is also a sequel to COMPANY (if Company were 'C', the opening voiceover helpfully explains), in style and subject matter if not in actual fact.

Of course, the usual complications ensue, as Deshu enters the gang, takes over an area that doesn't have a lot of profit, makes it pay off, starts to get his own loyal sub-gang, while the old heir apparent harbours a grudge that turns to treachery. It's altogether more violent and not as fun as the Hong Kong YOUNG & DANGEROUS movies, but it still has a lot of good stuff going on. Shootouts are handled with a minimum of flash. And the supporting cast overshadows the lead: Goga Kapoor is Hashimbhai, the aging Don, and Chunky Pandey plays Deshu's right-hand man, who loves booze and his girl and his boss. The score is excellent, but where are the song and dance routines? Alas, no where to be found, because many Bollywood directors today feel the musical numbers somehow cheapen their film, whereas in actuality the dances serve to make them more interesting. Without, the movie becomes something we could see from any region, from Hollywood to Hong Kong, with only the streets of Mumbai to stamp it as Indian.

Still, 'D' is one of the best-crafted Bollywood movies I have seen in some time. The oppressive heat, the grunge and decay of everyday life, the over saturated colors of interior spaces, all bring to mind Christopher Doyle's work in DAYS OF BEING WILD. Incredible location shooting show off the the squalor and energy of the city to great effect, making it another in a long history of Bollywood films to celebrate the city, warts and all. It's too bad that all that work was put to an unremarkable story told too many times already, with a star who could do brooding hunkiness but not much else.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on March 08, 2008.

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