NYT Quickie on DAVID
“David,” a Hindi film directed by Bejoy Nambiar, asks a simple question: Why make a single movie when you can pack three into one? Behold the complicated, entertainingly erratic result: separate story lines set in 1975, 1999 and 2010 that encompass gangster daddy issues, religious extremism and the coveting of a best friend’s fiancée.
The tie binding the stories, with a certain jaw-dropping purity of intention, is that the protagonists share the same first name. Shot in black and white (with a lot of leather, shades and hair) for no evident reason, the 1970s David is a brutal but soulful London assassin (Neil Nitin Mukesh) embroiled in dramas of romance and revenge with his boss’s family. The millennial David, a mild-mannered aspiring guitarist (Vinay Virmani) in Mumbai, goes on the warpath when a rabble-rousing politician targets his father as a Christian zealot and incites supporters to attack. Last but not least of the Davids is a Goan beach-bum fisherman (Chiyaan Vikram) who zanily falls in love with a deaf-mute woman shortly before she is to marry his buddy.
Rather than being a star- or song-driven showcase (despite a notably eclectic soundtrack), “David” zigzags tonally and visually thanks to Mr. Nambiar, an eager student of flair. Each story allows him to broadcast style and effect in different ways, from the mannered staging of murders to the sociopolitical disputes broached by Mr. Virmani’s much-abused guitarist, who repeatedly proclaims “I want answers!” and elicits an inspired monologue from one dastardly foe comparing God to underwear.
The Goan segment yields an ending so insistently nutty as to achieve a certain poetic truth, but the concluding hash of montage shows that there’s no safe way out of this movie.