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Once Upon A Time In Mumbai is based on the underworld scene of the 70s, ruled by Sultan Mirza- A character based on Haji Mastan. It's a film that explores the power that Sultan Mirza holds on all Mumbai, his love story with film actress Rehana and his rise and fall with rebel sidekick, Shoaib, who is modeled on young Dawood Ibrahim.Read more
This is a film about Bombay, not Mumbai. It's a story about a smuggler, his lady love and his sidekick, and it's a rather filmy story. The movie is set in Bombay of the 70s, a Bombay that was slowly becoming the financial capital of the country, a Bombay that was home to everything filmy: including the underworld. Everything in the movie is larger than life, the dialogues are almost verse-like, the clothes are loud (it's the 70s!), the heroine's makeup is loud and what is most vivid is the romanticism of being a powerful don. The power play and slick narrative takes the audience in a roller coaster ride of one man's rise, another man's fall and a strong attempt to be stylish at it.
The movie is told to us through the eyes of DCP Agnel Wilson (Randeep Hooda), where he tells us about Sultan Mirza, the most powerful don who arrived in Mumbai with the sea as a small innocent boy, who grew up to become a good-hearted don. It is clear that Sultan Mirza owns the city, loves the city and calls it his Mehbooba. Which is why he helps the poor and becomes a god like figure for them. The character of Sultan Mirza is precise and Ajay Devgan plays it with utmost conviction. He does a good job because we've seen him play a similar character in Company and he still manages to bring a sense of freshness to the character.
Through DCP Agnel Wilson's memory we are told of Sultan's rise to power, how he respects the city by only smuggling material goods and not drugs, his love story with film star Rehana (Kangana Ranaut) and his discovery in Shoaib (Emraan Haashmi). His love story is as filmy as it gets, with a corny courtship period which lasts for 3 minutes, cheesy dialogues and song/dance routine albeit with a mature fading into the larger context of the film. Kangana is demure and looks the part of a 70s film star with all the bling and glitz. Emraan on the other hand, plays a younger Dawood Ibrahim in all sincerity. He is cheeky, arrogant and smooth in his ways, and serves as a good contrast to the mature Sultan Mirza. His determination to rule Mumbai and become the greatest power, gives us a dramatic look into what we see now, in the form of international terrorism via Dawood Ibrahim.
The problem with the film comes when there seems to be not much of a build up between the king and his sidekick, as seen brilliantly in Company. Both character of Sultan and Shoaib are built very well, but the conflict is not acted out much after the intermission. More emphasis is given on punch lines for dialogues, which get tiring after a point. As an audience member, you expect more action than dialogues, and while the first half seems promising, the latter part of the film, including the climax, don't match up to the decently carved out first half. Kangana's character takes a backseat, Ajay Devgan becomes repetitive and Emraan becomes a cheeky slave to power, to a point of no belief.
The performances are immaculate as they go with the overall feel of the film, it doesn't seem stale and convinces you in parts. Randeep Hooda is a raw change, in his confidence as a police officer, Ajay Devgan and Emraan Hashmi are cogent in their parts, but the film loses it edge through a script that creates a void with it's hurried climax and falling second half. Even the though the movie is out and out dramatic, at points the dialogues become too theatrical. Kangana seems sparkly and filled with potential but suddenly loses her screen presence in all the rush to make a drama out of a very narrate-able story.
The background score is appealing, but the music seems a bit forgettable. The movie's obvious strong points are Ajay Devgan, apt characterization and a good story which could have churned out a better climax. Watch Once Upon A Time In Mumbai for the love of Bombay, Ajay Devgan, an entertaining story and don't expect to blown away.
This article is by guest author Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
Thumbs up, by Stefan S, A Nutshell Review : ...Ajay Devgan comes hot off the successful Raajneeti, and his growing screen charisma is never beyond doubt as he chews up each scene he's in... full review
Thumbs up, by Amodini, Amodini's Movie Reviews : .... The story is strong except for a few unfathomable turns, and it is multi-layered bringing in many interesting sub-plots, like that of Rihana’s dwindling filmi fortunes and Shoaib’s patient lover... full review
Thumbs up, by Daliya Ghose, Bollywood Mantra : ...Powerful script, strong screenplay, electrifying dialogue grips the interest level of the audience. Read more: Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Movie Review | Kangana Ranaut | Ajay Devgan | Prachi Desai http://www.bollywoodmantra.com/movie-review/once-upon-a-time-in-mumbai/#ixzz0wwTAE13p ... full review
Thumbs up, Filmi Tadka : ...The costumes reflect vintage fashion comprising elaborate hairdos, Hipster Saris, chandelier earrings for women, or flared trousers, long collar and long hair for men.... full review
Thumbs up, by Deepa Garimella , fullhyd.com : ...Despite the plot being a little too easy-going and simplistic, and the fact that most of its characters have no logical conclusion, it is fascinating to see the simple-minded character-building... full review
Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times : ...Few actors in mainstream films manage a self-assured, under-stated swagger, convey so much silently, sometimes just with their glance and droopy eyes. It’s a camera art. Bachchan perfected it as the ‘angry young man’. Devgn, you can tell, is his fine successor.... full review
Thumbs up, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ...The film presents to you two equally powerful protagonists who are so strongly written charismatic characters that at no point they lose their onscreen heroism... full review
Thumbs up, by Sanjukta Sharma , Live Mint : ...Costumes, such as multicoloured nylon shirts, body-hugging saris and white bell-bottoms, nightclubs shimmering with disco balls and fuchsia wallpapers, and of course, R.D. Burman sounds—the retro groove is tastefully and arduously evoked.... full review
Thumbs up, by Sethumadhavan, Passion for Cinema : ...While Ajay has proven on numerous occasions that he is a wonderful actor and has done a gangster movie like Company, Emran looked like the dark horse to me.... full review
Thumbs up, by Ankit Ojha , Planet Bollywood : ...The dialogues are so straightforward that sometimes they may seem artificial, but these dialogues make the movie even more poetic and dramatic, so one could forgive the writer for it... full review
Thumbs up, by Janhvi Patel, StarBoxOffice : ...For a change, Kangna Ranaut is not playing an unstable and nuerotic woman. She plays a glamorous, happy girl and looks gorgeous in her different avatars. She has a flair for comedy and her chemistry with Ajay is effective. ... full review
Thumbs up, by K K Rai, STARDUST : ...Though the climax of the story is novel and would be loved by audiences, the second half of the story loses steam midway and it shows in the screenplay.... full review
Thumbs up, by Raghav Ramaiah , Talking Popcorns : ...Milan Luthria's style of story telling is different and is quite evident with Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and we saw that previously with Taxi 9211 too... full review
So-So, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...Once Upon A Time is hampered by disappointingly life-size actors grappling with lines meant for mythical (anti)heroes... full review
So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...But all my excitement and expectations were only partly satisfied with few commendable performances in the movie and the rest was nothing great ... full review
So-So, Mixed Bag : ... The slow-paced yet engaging screenplay of Rajat Arora has been beautifully integrated with powerful dialogues which attained better substance due to the dim and eloquent eyes of Ajay Devgun.... full review
Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Film Impressions : ...The art direction is good and slips only when Kangna Ranaut wears the Breakfast At Tiffany's style Black dress which is 1961 style and not something a star of the seventies would wear... full review
Thumbs down, by Mihir Fadnavis, india.com : ...The saddest thing about Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai is its lame aspiration for grasping the coolness vibes when in fact the film isn't as flippant or slick as it thinks it is... full review
Thumbs down, by Khalid Mohamed, Passion for Cinema : ...In actuality, Madhubala’s sister Sona, has protested against the film, in the capacity of the wife of Haji Mastan. Which is to say that the storyline isn’t an exact replica of the characters etched here, but the references are more than apparent.... full review
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