Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Once Upon A Time In Mumbai - Movie Review

Heard some nice stuff about this movie so I went ahead and watched it at Venkatramana theatre near Kachiguda. Now this is one theatre that believes in troubling the highest ticket holders the most - you have to climb 4-5 flights to reach your destination. No lifts of course! Anyway after all that trouble, Shobha and I noticed that there was only one head bobbing up and down in our class. Thankfully a few more popped in as the movie started. There was a big disclaimer saying that it is not based on the life of Haji Mastan or any living or dead person. Pretty imaginative stuff. Most people these days don't know who Haji Mastan is anyway so I am sure they all wondered what this was about.

The movie begins with a middle aged cop with a nice name, Agnel Wilson (Randeep Hooda) trying to commit suicide by running his car off a bridge. Of course he does not die (he is such a loser that he cannot even kill himself and he is our Super cop). Nor does he get arrested as ordinary people do. Why is this cop trying to kill himself, asks the top cop after cop recovers next day . Cop is in the grip of feeling bad about how he is responsible for Mumbai being attacked by mobsters these days. Talk of an inflated self-image guys, this guy probably thinks he is responsible for the Earth revolving around the Sun, and then reels off his story.

In cops flashback, a young Sultan Mirza arrives in Mumbai from Madras. He works in a hard place shovelling coals and always has grime on his face. But he shows his large heart by being charitable especially to two old women in the whole movie. Anyway without much ado, Sultan grows up to be Ajay Devgan and becomes the king of the seas and controls all the mafia chaps in Mumbai. He also has a parallel track going with Rehana (Kangana Ranaut) the famous film actress whom he woos in great style and they are both happily an item. Strangely reminded one of the Amitabh and Parveen scene in Deewaar. Of course Sultan is a smuggler, but he has his principles of keeping to straight businesses, not using guns, not marrying, having only one moll, and generally having a live and let live policy.

Meanwhile a young hot head named Shoheb Khan (Emraan Hashmi), son of a police constable, rises - from stealing from telephone booths to stealing from houses. He starts off as a petty thief who steals stuff in a complicated manner. The modus operandi is to get to Bandra with a few friends, beat up a guy with a car so badly taht he needs a doctor, show him the doctor's house which is across the road and then walk into the doctor's house to rob it. Why not just walk into the doctor's house? But maybe these Mumbai dons think differently. Also he walks in and out of the jewellery store where his girlfriend (Prachi Desai) works. Not just walk in, he insists on kissing her and doing all kinds of stuff for which young couples get booked by police, in the store. And if he was such a thief, why he never raided that jewellery store is what surprises me. Anyway, this chap is trouble as we all know and he ends up as sidekick to Sultan Mirza.

In a series of bad judgments and decisions, Mirza decides to quit smuggling, take up politics and hand over the reigns temporarily to Shoheb. With three bad decisions in a row one cannot expect to survive even in the government and definitely not in the badlands, and that is what happens to Mirza. Kangana meanwhile has a hole in her heart which she survives and symbolically, Mirza also gets a hole made for himself in his heart. Only he does not survive that. Shoheb flirts with upcoming heroines in his newfound freedom as temporary don in the absence of Sultan, while his girlfriend (these guys don't marry) waits, hoping he'll turn into a new leaf. She also asks him the big question - who are you? I don't think I know this person you have turned into. Enough to put away Shoheb into the arms of the next babe I think. Oh, and we also know that Shoheb holds the patent to the word supari. If he had copyrighted it, he would have been a rich man now. Legitimately I mean.

Anyway why the cop thinks he is responsible for Mumbai's state I cannot fathom. Did he run their businesses? Did he help them escape? The only thing that he seems to have done is try and play Shoheb against Mirza which Shoheb was going to do anyway. Nothing in Shoheb's demeanour suggests that anything, least of all a loser cop, would have changed his destiny, specially with all the luck going his way with some incredibly stupid bosses and cops around. At no point does the cop force try and get Shoheb - maybe because his father is an honest constable who is loyal to the clean smuggler Sultan.

Frankly I expected more from Milan Luthria who made a wonderful movie like Taxi No 9211. To me nothing in this movie stuck. The two gangsters spend more time with their women than their gangs - so I am not sure how they get their fabulous reputations. And it is not clear what he is trying to say - is it that the police is to blame? The last caption about the myth and the betrayal would have been better off if it came at the beginning. It would have given some direction to the movie. As for the performances, Ajay Devgan is very good as usual and Kangana is superb in her role as Rehana. Emraan is his usual self - he can never ever play Don for sure because he looks like a brat kid and behaves like one. Not someone who oozes menace. Prachi Desai is her usual self again, pretty, sad and anxious.

But somewhere I can't help feeling that someone sold their soul someplace. Why a gangster flick showing gangsters as great role models and cops as the betrayers? Come on guys, there must be better stories to tell. Like the brilliant 9211 story.

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