Daud (1997)

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 ;-)

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24 Comments to “Daud (1997)”

  1. whoa! she DOES look like ms bali- who would have thunk?!
    I missed this when it came out- I was only allowed so many movies (that condition doesnt hold true any more- hah!) But reading ur review it doens tlook like I muissed much at all :) This seems hard to sit thru though- ur pretty high on the bravery scale ms :D

  2. More than that, I think she has the same fire and sparkle in her personality.

    And I liked the movie a lot, except for the directorial leering! And most of that was through the songs—fast-forward will get you through them nicely.

  3. Yes, she does look like Geeta Bali.

  4. Sounds like a really spicy mix of lots of masala! RGV tended to do the “salivating camera” bit over Urmila in all her movies starting from Rangeela. Good observation about Naach – I only remember forwarding parts of it and Abhishek Bachchan (and I dont usually find him memorable)!

    Urmila and Sanjay were together in Khoobsurat (1999) too, and that was a really cute, romantic movie.

  5. Oh, I forgot about Khoobsurat! I’m pretty sure I have it, I vaguely remember it. I probably got it right after I saw this :-D

    Daud definitely contains the recommended daily allowance of masala. Spicy goodness!

  6. Memsaab, you’ve probably seen it already, but for another movie featuring Sanjay as an endearingly goofy (and fundamentally good-hearted) bad guy, a woman (Madhuri Dixit) who goes on the lam with him and helps him see the error of his ways, a super-psychotic villain, and spectacular dance numbers that you won’t want to fast-forward through, I recommend Khal Nayak (1993). When the camera lingers on Madhuri’s sexiness, it’s in a way that’s playful and fun (as in the classic “Choli Ke Peeche” number) rather than leering. The onscreen chemistry between Sanjay and Madhuri makes their characters’ growing attraction highly believable (just about the only believable thing about this movie).

    The only parts I wanted to fast-forward through were the interminable fight scenes featuring the film’s nominal hero Jackie Shroff, which just prevented me from getting to the next Madhuri number quickly enough!

  7. I love “Choli Ke Peeche”—it’s very sexy but not salacious, if you know what I mean :-) Khalnayak is a fun film!

    Sanjay seems to have a corner on the endearingly goofy bad-guy-with-a-good-heart market.

    Isn’t the fast-forward button so useful sometimes?

  8. I will have to see Daud now.

    Thanks for this phrase: hair continuity issues

    EXCELLENT!

    I remember similiar butt shots in acid wash demin on Urmila in Rangeela.

    I especially liked Urmila in “Ek Hasina Thi” also by Ram Gopal Varma, who I have also not forgiven for “Aag.” Have you seen that?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ek_Hasina_Thi

    All the best,
    Sita-ji

  9. I have spared myself the agony of Aag. Like Jaya Bachchan and others, I thought it was just a bad idea to remake Sholay.

    If I’m going to spend time on bad films (and I am), I want them to be from the ’70s :-)

  10. Memsaab: I love this movie, and I’m thrilled that you do, as well. The sexy Abbott and Costello banter between Sanjay and Urmila is great fun, the musical numbers so insane I love them (in the giant bug number, Sanjay nearly drops Urmila, oops, good enough, don’t need another take) and the enthusiatic mish-mash of Kiss Me Deadly and the original The Italian Job (with Michael Caine) and who knows what else makes for masala delight.

  11. Yay us for having such gooooooood taste! :-)

  12. Well, now I can boast a bit!
    i wen tto the same college as Urmila. We were both in D. G. Ruparel College. okay, she did Arts and I Science. Only time I really said anything was “Hi” at the matunga Station, where we were both waiting for the train.
    And “even then” I told others that she had great similarity to Geeta Bali. I like her acting but can barely tolerate her voice.

  13. Ref.: 1 st screen cap.

    he means to say he isn’t STRAIGHT and decent!

    I hope Sanjay said that and not Urmila!

  14. Urmila seems like she might be fun to hang out with. And she says that first line, not Sanju! :) She’s telling him that she’s not exactly law-abiding either.

  15. a pity!
    Urmila was at that time at least very reserved, which she often points out in her interviews.
    and I think we won’t be able to see eh rmuch in her masala avatar. She has been relegated to playing roles, which were previously played by Simi (see karz)
    A pretty waste of talent in both the cases

  16. Re: RGV’s fetish. Farhan Khan proclaimed that for Dard E disco in Om Shanti Om, she shot SRK the way RGV shoots his heroines. :)

  17. I think that RGV very much understood that Urmila’s butt was one of her best features and would entice hot-blooded young males flock to the theatre to watch his movies. She does look scrumptious in Daud, though.

  18. Otherwise a most average movie (every movie by RGV seems average after you’ve seen Rangeela and Satya), the high point of this movie is a superbly crafted song by A R Rahman: “O Bhanwre” which is a Reggae beat with the “A R Rahman sound!”. It’s sung by Asha Bhonsle and K J Yesudas in their inimitable style and it’s one of the better samples of how ARR successfully creates “that sound”. Rangeela and Satya are the RGV movies (the former also has a lot of Urmila’s posterior!)

  19. Trivia: The small role of underworld don Khurana is played by a very talented Gujarati actor Rajeev Mehta, who later played the legendary character of Praful Parekh in the TV comedy Khichdi. You can see him at work in Khichdi: The Movie, but I’m not sure the movie would work for someone unfamiliar with the Khichdi mythology.

  20. Sanjay Dutt was at his hunkiest best (barring his dances) but it was still fair enough. But I feel that Urmila outshines him in dis movie. Despite an overtly discussion over ogling atm her butt n all……dis girl really was brave n bold . I loved her look throughout the movie as she looked very different from d regular bollywood actresses. Though d choreagraphy was not good but watching Urmila dance is always a treat. She is such a fantastic performer. Wateva ppl may say, but dis movie has one strong support from me, solely because of Urmila!

  21. I am sorry, did you say Urmila skills were wasted and all she was required to do was wear skimpy outfits? I say her “skills” were fully exposed in this movie!

  22. RGV’s best movie in my opinion is Kaun? With Urmila . It is a great mystery horror ,psycho on the lose story with a lot of humor and twists. Spoiler……kind of like Itifaaq but with a dark sense of humor.

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