There are many arguments in support of and against the direct release of films on OTT platforms instead of giving them a run in theaters first. Purists think that since movies have been known to be released on the big screen, that’s where they should be watched. It’s where you get the best picture quality and the best sound. Additionally, if the audience is great, then it automatically improves your viewing experience. But since every theater isn’t in perfect condition and since audiences can be filled with people who talk loudly on the phone or kick the seats, watching a film from the comfort of your home isn’t a bad option. Now, although I’m a “theater first, OTT later” person, ever so often, a film comes along the way that shakes my resolve and forces me to opine that some pieces of “entertainment” shouldn’t even see the light of the day. One such film is Bloody Daddy.
Adapted from Frédéric Jardin’s Sleepless Night, writer-director Ali Abbas Zafar and co-writer Aditya Basu start off the movie with a robbery conducted by Sumair and Jaggi, which concludes with a shooting and a bag full of cocaine. Sumair and Jaggi turn out to be corrupt cops working for the narcotics department who intend to sell the drugs and make a lot of money. But since that bag belongs to a hotel owner and mob boss named Sikandar, he kidnaps Sumair’s son, Atharv, and urges Sumair to return the drugs to him or else his son will be turned into mincemeat. Although Sumair is bad at being a police officer and even worse at being a father, he gets the chance to prove that he’s good at both of those things by going into the lion’s den and performing his duties. However, when his colleagues, Aditi and Sameer, throw themselves into the mix, the whole situation gets too complicated for Sumair to handle. So he resorts to punches, kicks, guns, and pretty much anything that’ll help him get to his son.
I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Bloody Daddy is one of the worst movies of the year. The cracks start to show up during the opening sequence itself. The dialogue writing is awkward. The performances from Shahid Kapoor and the usually dependable Zeishan Quadri are lame. Sumair’s character design feels off because why does an NCB officer look like a runway model? And then the awful direction, weird action choreography, bland cinematography, and nauseating editing kick in, and you realize that you are about to witness a glorious disaster disguised as a movie. The magnanimity of this colossal mess becomes apparent after the first hand-to-hand fight sequence, though, which happens in a neon-lit games room. The camera moves are so jarring that if somebody tells me that the camera operator is walking over banana peels while shooting the scene, I will believe them. The cuts are so frenetic that if somebody tells me that the editor was challenged into letting a shot last on the screen for less than a second, I will believe them. If I tell you that Zafar is one of the worst directors who is constantly trying to make his mark on the action genre, just believe me.
When the teaser and trailer for Bloody Daddy were released, Shahid Kapoor fans flocked to the internet to say that it looked like India’s answer to John Wick. I laughed then, and I laugh now because only a person who hasn’t watched John Wick can say such a thing. The set pieces constructed by Chad Stahelski and his team have a sense of fluidity to them. They allow viewers to truly appreciate the work of the actors and the stunt performers. They don’t hide anything behind cuts. They exhibit inventiveness with their choreography. And most importantly, they balance style with substance. Zafar’s film has none of that. Slapping some neon lights here and there and making your protagonist wear a black suit doesn’t get you even close to the John Wick films. However, that’s not the movie’s biggest crime. Its biggest crime is that it stretches the narrative of the 103-minute-long original into a painfully paced 2-hour slog! Every time it feels like the movie is about to end, Zafar throws another sluggishly crafted action scene or a hollow conversation, thereby making you question everything in your life.
When it comes to the acting in Bloody Daddy, Ronit Bose Roy is the only one who gives a consistent performance. It feels like he has understood the psyche of Sikandar, and hence he is having fun without breaking character. The same can be said about Vivan Bhathena, even though he doesn’t get a lot of screen time. I would’ve appreciated Sanjay Kapoor’s performance, too, if he hadn’t tried to fling himself into the “Worst Acting in a Dying Scene” Hall of Fame. Diana Penty is wooden. Rajeev Khandelwal is bored. Mukesh Bhatt and Zeishan Quadri’s talents are squandered. Sartaaj Kakkar is fine, and so is the rest of the cast. But the person who completely tanks the movie is Shahid Kapoor. Look, it’s not like he has had the best choice in films, and his entire career is filled with duds. But ever since he has started to do these remakes (this is the third one after Kabir Singh and Jersey), he has lost his ability to be authentic. There are multiple moments in the film where it seems like he has forgotten how to act and is aimlessly flailing for some kind of direction from Zafar. The one place where he could’ve shone is the action sequences, but he fails in that department, too, because when he isn’t unconvincingly trying to hit the stunt doubles, his work is being obscured by the headache-inducing editing.
It’s weird that we now have two 2023 movies (Kuttey and Bloody Daddy) that feel like amateur copies of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Kaminey, and both of them are equally horrible. So, instead of wasting the limited amount of time you have on this planet on this Ali Abbas Zafar flick, just go and watch Kaminey. At the very least, it doesn’t have a shot where the individual in charge of color grading the film put a yellow filter over Sanjay Kapoor’s face and then forgot to blend it properly, thereby leading to this awkward moment where Sanjay moves while the filter stays in its place. This amazing phenomenon occurs around the 46-minute mark. In addition to all that, I want to apologize to Bollywood filmmakers for requesting that they make action films. I have come to the realization that we aren’t going to get good action movies because there’s clearly a dearth of talent, dedication, and imagination in this industry. So, if Hindi films want to stop making action films altogether, I’m okay with that. I’ll get my fix from Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, American, Indonesian, Hong Kong, Japanese, South Korean, Vietnamese, and French films.