This weekend I decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit an early, somewhat guilty, pleasure: Daud (tagline: Fun on the Run). It’s probably one of the first fifty Hindi films I saw; I bought it for Sanjay Dutt whom I had just discovered, and I really enjoyed it but haven’t watched it since. All I really remembered about it was the crackling chemistry between Sanjay Dutt and Urmila Matondkar, and the wacked-out musical numbers.
All that is still there; but now, six or so years and hundreds of Hindi films later there is so much more too!
Imagine my astonishment when the credits rolled:
I had no idea the movie had such an illustrious pedigree! Back when I first watched it I only knew of AR Rahman from Lagaan, and I had no idea who Ram Gopal Varma was. Of course now I also know that he’s responsible for RGV Ki Aag and Naach which I really can never forgive him for—so perhaps the luster is a little tarnished, although Company remains a favorite.
And Paresh Rawal and Manoj Bajpai are the really rotten bad guy Pinky and his henchman Pushkar:
I had no idea who they were either (to be fair, I still haven’t seen Manoj Bajpai in much)…But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our story begins when the Indian Coast Guard stops a smuggling boat and confiscates its cargo. What the government agents don’t know is that one of the boxes belongs to a terrorist organization led by Pinky, and they want their box back. Pinky contacts an underworld don, Khurana, who hires a small-time goonda named Nandu (Sanjay Dutt) to steal the box from the government godown. He tells Nandu that the box contains gold worth one crore.
When the Chief Minister hears that the box has been stolen, he tells the police that gold worth 2 crores has been stolen, and that it must be recovered. The police distribute “Wanted” posters of Nandu (done from the closed circuit cameras at the godown).
Nandu arranges to meet Khurana at a hotel to receive his payment and tell Khurana where the box is. When Nandu arrives at the hotel, he sees some guys harassing a pretty girl (Urmila Matondkar) and goes to her rescue. She is unimpressed—she has skills of her own.
Bhavani is a dancer at the hotel, and we are treated to a really bad song and dance (sorry ARR, but I didn’t love your music in this one) in front of a giant bug:
By the way, Sanju has hair continuity issues throughout, which I’m only going to mention now. But yes, I did notice them. Also, the entire film has dance choreography issues—it’s bad, really bad, a waste of Urmila’s considerable skills. She’s mostly only required to writhe in skimpy clothing.
Before Nandu can meet up with Khurana, the police (who have been called by an alert desk clerk) arrive. Led by Inspector Nair (Ashish Vidyarthi), they chase Nandu through the hotel, but he loses them with Bhavani’s help. Then he hears that the gold is worth two crore, not one as Khurana had told him.
He goes to Khurana’s house the next morning and confronts him. Khurana demands his box, and Nandu demands quadruple his price. Just as the argument gets ugly (i.e. guns are waved about), Bhavani arrives and saves the day. The fight choreography is even worse than the dance choreography! Or maybe Urmila’s jeans are just too tight for her to kick convincingly. Anyway, they escape.
Meanwhile, Inspector Nair is getting grief from the Minister about his failure to nab the thief. He denies that he and his men are not taking the case seriously:
but privately wonders why the big fuss over some missing gold. It’s not as if gold isn’t smuggled all the time! I like Inspector Nair. He is clearly one of those overworked, intelligent civil servants whose boss(es) keep lying to him and keeping him in the dark, thereby making his difficult job even harder.
Nandu and Bhavani steal a truck.
By now I am also growing weary of all the long, loving shots of Urmila’s butt.
Pinky kills Khurana. Pushkar is worried that the police will find Nandu before they do, but Khurana’s “got an idea.” They go to Nair’s house and take his wife and son hostage.
Nandu and Bhavani are approaching a police checkpoint in their stolen truck. They decide to crash through it, which naturally sets the police onto them. They are chased into the jungle, where they have to abandon the truck and set off on foot. They are still bickering (as they have from the beginning), and the tension catches up to them. They scuffle like two children, but are soon reminded that they are not kids.
Sparks are flying! This chemistry is what I remember liking so much when I saw the film years ago. Bhavani and Nandu have each had nobody to depend on in life, and have made it through by keeping people at a distance—Bhavani by being prickly and argumentative, Nandu by being a good-for-nothing wise guy. It’s really lovely to watch them find—and begin to trust—one another.
I am a sucker for romance. And if they only left it at that it would be great. But, we are treated to another song where Urmila contorts herself and Sanjay stands around. It’s quite an eye-opener: I think its supposed to be erotic but is so over-the-top that I start laughing. I can’t quite capture it in screen shots.
But you get the idea. It’s painful and awkward, and both of them look like they wish they were elsewhere. I am pretty sure I fast-forwarded through the songs when I watched it before.
The next day they wander into a village and ask about a hotel. They are sent to Chacko (Neeraj Vora). He is a tiny version of Govinda.
He is the village’s chief, and instantly smitten with Bhavani. He gives them a place to stay in his large house, and organizes a party for that evening. Finally there’s a song worth watching, and a good time is had by all!
Other people are working though, Inspector Nair for instance. He and his men are closing in on the village. Upon receipt of that information, Pinky orders his men to kill the boy and Mrs. Nair. It’s never quite clear if his men follow his orders—they seem reluctant, since they all realize that he’s completely psycho and don’t quite trust him themselves. But we never hear about their fate, and Nair himself doesn’t seem too affected.
Back in the village Nandu luckily wakes up early and sees the police approaching. He grabs Bhavani and they make their escape, on a vehicle much like one he will later ride in another (better) film.
On the road again, they…break into song! Egad! Thus they fail to notice when Pinky et al pass them on the road, and then turn around to follow them (of course they don’t know Pinky yet, but a car full of thugs waving guns is pretty noticeable…isn’t it?).
The terrorists follow them all the way back to the city, and to the box at Nandu’s place. Nandu and Bhavani are about to find out how ruthless and creepy Pinky is.
But wait! Chacko too has followed them, to save his fair damsel, although now he resembles David Dhawan in addition to Govinda.
After some exciting mayhem, the gang escapes with the box and Nandu tells Bhavani to forget about the gold. He loves her, he says, and her life is more important (awwww). Another thing I didn’t realize back when I watched this the first time was that I was hardly ever going to see this onscreen again:
But then Chacko tells Inspector Nair where Nandu lives, and as he searches the place, the Minister arrives with men in radiation suits; he tells Nair that the box contains a neutron bomb, not gold. Nandu and Bhavani overhear him as they are sneaking out.
What will they do? will they run away, or decide to help out? Can psychotic Pinky be stopped? How will they ever find him? You should watch it to find out: the ending is amazing.
I know this is an endless post, but it is a pretty long movie. And a good one! except for this: I don’t remember being as creeped out by RGV’s blatant voyeuristic ogling of Urmila before; I guess I mostly fast-forwarded through the songs earlier, although it’s not limited to them. The salivating over Urmila reminded me of one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen: Naach, although this is much less dull. But he drooled over Antara Mali in exactly the same way.
But Daud is a LOT of fun. Paresh Rawal is really great as the criminally psychotic Pinky. There is plenty of humor (and it’s funny!) and good performances out of the other characters too. And as I said—the ending is unbelievably good.
But most of all I love the Sanjay-Urmila pairing; they look good together, and her spunky beauty compliments his laid-back goofiness very nicely.
Shammi Kapoor has said that Urmila reminds him of his beloved first wife Geeta Bali. I can see why! I’d love to see her with Sanjay again. Maybe she can be Munna’s next girl ;-)