This is a story of three cool men. Cool because the first one, an impeccably distressed looking fisherman, drags fish out of water much like how Salman Khan pulls out limbs in Dabangg-type films. The second - a yuppy, scrawny guitar player - has hair full of hippie braids which look heavier than the guy himself. And the last, is the first chapter in the bible of Hollywood cool - an assassin in a tux. All these men are called David - the fisherman in Goa, the rookie guitarist in '90s Mumbai and the seasoned assassin in '70s London. And apparently, their fates are all tied to that name - David.
Now, since this is not a Bhatt film you don't expect a ghost, a tragic, wronged-in-life ghost, called David to hunt down all his namesakes in empty bathrooms and dark bedrooms. Since this is not a neo-Karan Johar film, you don't expect a tearjerker on the politics of the name David. The problem with David is, you walk into the theatre waylaid by the fancy oh-so-noir promos, the guns firing in slo-mo, exquisitely black and white figures running down stairs and across patios in slo-mo, rain drops falling in slo-mo, pretty girls in frocks dancing in slo-mo.
You expect all of that to add up to something gut wrenching, something more stunning than the tux on Neil Nitish Mukesh, something more disturbing than a waif-like Monica Dogra in wedding finery running maniacally to the hero standing by an opulent French window. Only, in Bejoy Nambiar's second film after Shaitaan - they don't. And probably the pithiest line in the film, that, I presume, is supposed to explain it all goes like this: "Peter kabhi David nahin ban sakta."
The story starts off like this. David, a rabble rousing, alcoholic Goan fisherman played by Vikram falls in love with Roma, his friend's fiancee. This happens in 2010. David, a sharp-shooter, an assassin loyal to a Muslim businessman in London, suspects that his godfather and his mother might have had more than just a formal relationship. This in 1975. And David, a young, hippie musician is just about to leave for the US when some Hindu fanatics attack his pious, harmless father who is a Christian priest.
The film, you presume, is about how their fates or paths cross. But that is also what Nambiar doesn't hint throughout the nearly-three hour run time of the film and tries saving the best for the last. Only that - the answer to why we are watching a David trilogy, not a Kevin, Peter, Tom Cruise one - is as limp as the climaxes of CID-type who-dunnits.
Nambiar is a good choreographer. Here, I use the word choreographer judiciously. Because David, is great choreography - from how Vikram shuffles around drunk to how Neil, in his black suit glory walks down with a Muharrum procession. Back-and-forth narrative, cunning camera angles, trippy music. People flirt in style, cry in style, even drop dead in style.
Only it doesn't help that a cold, crazy killer like Neil's character speaks in a voice best suited to a Bhajan singer - even when he wants to know if his foster father was sleeping with his mother. It doesn't help that Monica Dogra speaks Hindi uncannily like Katrina Kaif does in Rajneeti. It doesn't help that the director gives no clue why a bunch of Hindu fanatics attack a priest - the dirty, swirling politics behind it is left for us to assume. It doesn't help that a blood boiled punk, screws up his face, clenches his fist and grimaces in true filmi revenge tradition to ask - Mujhe jawab chahiye! Yes, and here you're not watching a Ram Gopal Verma film where people get beaten up as a pastime.
David, the film, lacks the passion its music has. It's only that smart - in that it can cover up how foolish it is for almost half its run-time.