By Shevaal Singh…
One of the highlights of the 2010 movie calendar belongs to director Milan Luthria’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai. The movie boasts a fantastic soundtrack as well as delivered strong performances from its cast which encompassed stars such as Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda and Kangana Ranaut. Its taut screenplay was one of its stand-out features. The film was directed with great aplomb by Luthria (who also directed movies such asKachche Dhaage, Chori Chori, Deewaar, Taxi 9211). However the world today knows the man for his work on the superhit The Dirty Picture (2011).
In Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Devgn essayed the role of Sultan Mirza, the powerful Indian Robin Hood of the Bombay (Mumbai) underworld. The 2010 film ended with Mirza’s assassination by one of his trusted own, Shoaib Khan (Emraan Hashmi). This sequel picks up from where that film left off. Now a powerful leader that commands half of Mumbai- Shoaib (now played by Akshay Kumar) continues his journey of power, loyalty and deceit.
Similarly to the first film where Devgn’s character takes a young Hashmi under his wing, Kumar’s avatar here mentors Aslam (Imraan Khan) for a life of crime and bloody politics. Indeed, Shoaib has a lot of enemies. Foremost among them is Raawal (Mahesh Manjrekar). When Raawal’s attempts to kill Shoaib in a car bomb fail, Aslam is sent to find the man and to take him out as soon as possible. Enter the beautiful Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha) along the way whose character throws a spanner in the works by accepting Shoaib’s generosity and Aslam’s romantic overtures. When Raawal discover Shoaib’s one weakness – Jasmine his lady love – he arranges a hit on her to weaken his enemy. Again, his plan fails when Jasmine is only wounded. This latest blunder only pushes Jasmine and Aslam together again, a recipe for ultimate disaster. The rest of the film aims to unravel this very complicated set of mixed relationships, with Aslam having to choose between his loyalty and love for the only person he has truly cared about.
Unfortunately, this sequel fails in comparison to the original 2010 film, as Luthria should have retained Hashmi to play the role of Shoaib. He was deceitfully brilliant in the first movie. Akshay Kumar tries his best to capture the soundless darkness of his character but the dialogues somehow throw him into a tailspin. My guess is that Kumar is not comfortable with well-thought out filmi-styled dialogues. I say this only because Kumar’s body of work is not one with many movies to really boast about. Yes, he is an entertainer who is loved by the audiences. But he is not too comfortable mouthing serious, well-written lines. This is visibly illustrated here. Imraan Khan and Sonakshi Sinha’s characters seem more at home with such writing. I must add that although some of the dialogues were razor-sharp but they missed making a forceful impact. The first half of the movie drags on for far too long. The film only picks up in the second half. Although Kumar,Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha give satisfactory performances, the screenplay is not as tight as the 2010 film. In first movie, one could feel the precisely balanced tension of the lead characters (Devgn, Hashmi, Hooda and Ranaut) and also in the first film, the city ‘Mumbaai’ was the protagonist. We breathed with the city as we tasted its pains, its joys and inner rumblings. In the sequel, Luthria seems to have forgotten about his main character. Pritam’s music here is good but not memorable. There is no Pee Loon and Tum Jo Aaye that had a certain kind of longevity to them. The well-shot Taayab Ali, Bismallah , Ishq and Ye Tune Kya Kiya tracks here are the only ones that make an impact.
This movie would have been released side-by-side with the super successful, all-out entertainer Chennai Express (which has co-incidentally made Rs 156 crores at the Indian box office). I am glad producers Ekta and Shobha Kapoor chose to release this film a week later; the damage to Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara by Chennai Express would have been fatally embarrassing!. At least with Chennai Express, we knew what to expect and we appreciated that. However, with this sequel we feel let down because Luthria is an intelligent film-maker who frequently delivers good cinema. Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Dobara is a good film; it could have been much better. Purely for a more respectable second half, the well-pictured songs and brilliant climax and sharp writing- Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Doobara scores a mild 6/10!