Struggling musician David (Jiiva), the son of a pastor, who swings towards atheism, and another David (Vikram) a carefree one, who spends the day drinking and squinting at the world. These are the protagonists of David, directed by Bejoy Nambiar.
Mumbai, 1999. Jiiva’s David lives with his two sisters and father (Nasser). He gives guitar tuitions and hopes to play professionally. Their close-knit family is shattered when a group of Hindu fundamentalists led by Malati tai (Rohini Hattangadi) targets his father (Nasser).
Goa, 2010. Vikram’s David has been stood up at the altar. He has a mother who wants to marry him off, and a close friend Peter (Nishan Nanaiah). Massage parlour owner Frenny (a glowing Tabu) is also his friend and love guru. This David has booze-fuelled conversations with his long-dead father (Saurabh Shukla).
The film swings between the lives of these two men, one of whom lives in a chawl in a metropolis waking up to religious animosity, and the other who lives by a golden sea in sun-kissed Goa. Women alter the course of both their lives. If Jiiva thirsts for revenge on Malati tai, tipsy Vikram falls crazily in love with Roma (Isha Sharvani), Peter’s fiancée.
How the lives of the two Davids intertwine is what the movie is all about. It’s just a two-line story. But, Bejoy makes up for that with incredible moments.
Vikram and Jiiva live their roles. Vikram’s is the more difficult. How on earth does one portray a wastrel without losing audience sympathy? But Vikram does. The only ‘work’ he does is dive deep and emerge with a huge fish, that too once — but what a shot! The man who sees the world through an alcohol haze has a maniacal laugh, smiles shyly and has melting eyes when he sees Roma. He also displays character when he pulls back Peter from death.
Jiiva slips into his ear-ring sporting musician part with ease. From a happy youth whose only worry is that he has to eat idli every day, Jiiva metamorphoses into a young man bursting with uncontrolled fury towards Malati tai. At the same time he displays an inexplicable tenderness towards his father. How easily the tears flow!
This is one film where all the actors have given their best — Nasser, Tabu, Rohini Hattangadi and John Vijay. Lara Dutta has been cast in a demure role; was there a need for her character at all? Isha lights up the frames with her pixie smile and luminous face.
Mention must be made of Jiiva’s fight sequence in the rain (action: Javed Aejaz). It loo ks lyrical in slow motion. Ratnavelu and P.S. Vinod’s cameras caress (the boat ride under a moon-lit sky), and occasionally shock. The sea, the beaches, the craggy peaks, a Mumbai from yore… reasons why this film must be watched only on the big screen.
Though the film is relatively taut at 127 minutes (editing: Sreekar Prasad), some scenes seem indulgent.
The Hindi version has a third David (Neil Nitin Mukesh in London) and you wonder how that would have panned out in Tamil? Would that segment set in the 1970s have merged as beautifully as these two?
The impressive background score is by Mikey McCleary. Snatches of music by seven composers, including Remo and ‘Kolaveri’ Anirudh, take the story forward. On the flip side, the dialogues, especially the Goa bits, sound pedestrian in parts. Goa and Tamil don’t gel very well. The lip sync is appalling, and the film looks as if it were partly ‘dubbed’.
What you do remember as you leave the theatre are the golden moments that reinforce your faith in the basic goodness of the two men. Watch if you love a film that is not packed with action. This one flows by languidly, chronicling inner journeys.
Director: Bejoy Nambiar
Cast: Vikram, Jiiva, Nasser, Tabu, Isha Sharvani, Saurabh Shukla
Storyline: The life of two Davids from different eras and how they finally meet
Bottomline: Watch if you love an experiential fil