Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai: Delivering Dons!
By MovieTalkies.com, 31 July 2010
Bollywood has seen many gangster movies being made, many by that master of the genre, Ram Gopal Varma. However, Milan Luthria's 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai' goes back to when it is supposed to have started, a time when it was more about smuggling and not so much about extortion and arms as it has become today.
Luthria's movie which has been produced by Ekta Kapoor's Balaji, recreates an era and time without going too much into historical details. According to sources, the two gangsters in the movie are based on the real life characters of Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim.
While this may, or may not be fully correct, the film does showcase a certain era in crime and how it finally gets eclipsed, which kind of is the story of the era of Haji Mastan and the rise of the successor, Dawood. Luthria manages to recreate that era beautifully with apt dialogues, a wonderful screenplay and some heartfelt music.
The film basically captures the rise in power of one Sultan Mirza (Ajay Devgn) as the lord of the underworld and the conflict that follows when his own protégé Shoaib Khan (Emraan Hashmi), challenges his authority. Surprisingly, for a film which is based on the underworld, there is very little of actual bloodshed!
Luthria does not seem to believe in going down that route. Instead, he takes the time and leisure to recreate the era through song-and dance numbers, cabarets and smuggling acts on celluloid. The USP of the movie is definitely its writing, courtesy Rajat Aroraa.
It manages to weave a magic of its own which is quite unique, making questions of whether the film is based on actual facts or fiction seem quite irrelevant. The film's story is narrated by a cop, played by Randeep Hooda, who brings out the changing face of crime in Mumbai and its underworld.
Luthria seems to have truly matured as a director with this film. It is praiseworthy, the manner in which he manages to tell this story of the underworld with so much restrain and delicacy and make it as much about human emotions and power play. The film proves to be an intensely satisfying experience. Much of the credit for that should also go to the art director, Nitin Chandrakant Desai as well. The retro look and feel of the movie needs to be credited to him.
But one of the major highlights of the movie is its dialogues. This is a movie which has the kind of dialogues that one was used to hearing in films of the seventies. That single masterstroke by Aroraa and Luthria really lifts this movie. Music composer Pritam also chips in with some lovely melodies. The 'peey loon' number especially is outstanding. Cinematographer Aseem Mishra is quite excellent and completes the retro feel and look.
'Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai' is ultimately about the two characters, Sultan Mirza and Shoaib Khan. Both the actors, Devgn and Hashmi turn in brilliant performances in their respective roles. Devgn, who has been doing a lot of light comedies these days, surprises once more with his intensity and the ease with which he essays a character like Sultan Mirza. It says a lot for his focus and intensity that he is able to convey volumes with just a gesture or a look.
Hashmi is perfectly cast as the wannabe, over-ambitious successor. The actor manages to convey that wild, hungry streak to perfection in the movie. The two actors are extremely well supported by their female counterparts, Kangana Ranaut and Prachi Desai.
Both girls turn in very natural performances. Also what is most interesting about the movie is the chemistry between the two pairs, Devgn-Kangana and Emraan-Prachi, which makes the love stories come truly alive. This obviously works very well for the movie. Hooda is very good as the cop and manages to make his presence felt among the Devgns and Hashmis.
'Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai' is the kind of movie which remains memorable for the manner in which it tells its story as much for the story itself. Unlike most gangster movies, this is not a movie which is anchored in blood and gore but on emotions as well, which is why Luthria's film captures the minds as well as hearts. It is not just an exercise in nostalgia, but much more as it manages to engage and keep one hooked through its entire duration. One complete entertainment package. Go, grab your gangsta thrills!