National Award winning filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia, who is quite excited about his upcoming Daddy, based on the real-life Mumbai gangster Arun Gawli, says he attempted to narrate the story from the perspectives of different people and viewpoints rather than humanising the character and making him a hero on-screen. Asked if he had kept in mind that cinema is an influential medium and empathising with any gangster could send a wrong message to the society, Ahluwalia told IANS: “I was very clear in my head that I am making a film on a real-life character where my aim was not to make him a hero…
“… I wanted to tell the story from perspectives of people who were related to him, his wife, his colleagues, his opponents… When you watch the film, you will understand that how people have different opinion on him; he was the hero for some, criminal for the others.” Ahluwalia also added: “However, he couldn’t get away with his crime, so I am sure none of the youngsters would want to be or act like Gawli. So I am not worried about sending out any wrong message through this film.”
Gawli, who is popularly known as Daddy and is lauded by many dwellers of Dagdi Chawl, is however not as popular as that of Dawood Ibrahim and other gangsters of Mumbai. Asked about what made him feel the need of telling the life story of Gawli, Ahluwalia said: “It is a fascinating story at the first place because he is not a criminal by strategy but by chance. “It is difficult for people to believe that he can be a murderer or can be involved in criminal activity… neither his appearance, nor his behaviour is evidence of that. If you meet him, you cannot match up to his nice humble personality and his criminal activity. He is mysterious.”
Ahluwalia, who has done extensive research to recreate Gawli’s world, said: “You see, his story is different because he really has come from a poor background. After the mills where his father used to work shut down, they went through a bad condition, just to survive… “Gawli has grown up seeing how other boys of his age started smuggling liquor etc. but he was different, very connected with his people of his chawl which was a big part of its growth, as a ‘daddy’ of Dagdi Chawl and as a politician, whereas Dawood came from a middle-class family.”
While Arjun Rampal is playing the lead character, this is the first time he is also co-written and produced the film. “Arjun came to me with the story and asked me if I can direct the film, knowing the story, I had no reason to say no.. as a filmmaker, my approach towards a story is realistic. Perhaps that is what Arjun wanted as a producer, to tell the story in a realistic manner,” said Ahluwalia. Daddy is releasing on July 21.