Film: “Coffee With D”; Director: Vishal Mishra; Cast: Sunil Grover, Zakir Hussain, Anjana Sukhani, Dipannita Sharma and Pankaj Tripathi; Rating: **1/2

Isn’t it amazing what a slew of talented actors can do to an outrageous idea’ Think of “Coffee With D” as a boys’ day out with Dawood, and you will actually enjoy the implausible goings on.

This is a what-if idea carried to an extreme of satirical eventuality but laced with lots of humour and saved from a catastrophic plunge to inanity by actors who know how to hold the dialogues even when the words run all over the place.

“Coffee With D” suffers from a fundamental flaw. It presumes that a film about a clash between ‘Dawood’ and ‘Arnab’ (the gangster and the newshound) would generate instant drama.

It does. And it doesn’t. While Sunil Grover makes an interesting getaway from his comic avatar on television to play the vociferous newshound with straight faced self importance, Zakir Hussain’s Dawood is priceless. He is both sinister and satirical.

Pankaj Tripathi, that camera chameleon, as Dawood’s right-hand man shows a rare understanding of how funny the business of extortion can be when the man in-charge has a phone that needs constant recharging. And Anjana Sukhani as Grover’s spirited sassy pregnant wife is a bagful of fun.

I wish these actors had more in the plot to chew on. The story is a one-liner. Once ‘Arnab’ decides to get ‘D’ for an interview, the film flounders with the pacing.

Many parts of the film read like episodes from a web series.

The second half is devoted entirely to the one-on-one between the dreaded gangster and the aggressive newshound.

What could have been a hard-hitting interface is drastically diluted with words and sentences beeped out by the censors. This is a satire that is meant to offend none. It steers miraculously clear of vulgarity while negotiating a bumpy ride from Mumbai to Karachi.

“Coffee With D” is like an unfinished unpolished version of what could have been a rollicking run-in into a ruminative session between Indian’s biggest fugitive and loudest journalist. If only it had been allowed more leg space to lunge in the lap of the ludicrous.

As things stand, “Coffee With D”, with its beeped places, names and other bloomers, just remains a potentially funny satire.

Whenever ‘Arnab’ tries to steer the conversation to the prickly topic of communal strife, ‘Dawood’ snarls, “Don’t even go there.” A sure sign of how difficult it is for filmmakers in this country to address themselves to political issues. At best the question and answer between the Don and the scribe remains a “Koffee With Karan”. After the rapid fire round, Dawood even asks for his gift hamper.

By Subhash K. Jha

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