Its time to rewind to the 70s. When it was fashionable to smuggle gold and ‘imported’ swiss watches were in demand. The era when gangs ruled Mumbai. Once Upon a time in Mumbaai creates that age and time. It presents to us the Mumbai of 70s or Bombay as it was known then.
The disclaimer says that lead characters are ‘NOT’ based on any person living or dead but we all know that Ajay Devgn’s Sultan Mirza is based on Haji Mastan and Emraan Hashmi represents the menacing Dawood Ibrahim. The movie shows the rise and fall of Haji Mastan and subsequent rise of his protege Dawood through the eyes of a Police Officer. It depicts how the gangs worked, how smuggling was carried out and empires were built. How one man’s greed and immoral nature splits the Bombay gangs and leads to the situation that is now. Its also a movie about ‘generation gap’ between father and son, an older wiser don and his rogue younger protege.
Director Miltan Lutharia in past has made some interesting films like Taxi No. 9211 and Kachche Dhhaage but this one would perhaps be his best work so far. Technically the film is well shot and the 70s era, the costumes, the cars and generally the city of Mumbai are authentically shown. Ttoally ‘filmi’ Dialogues are the best part of the film. Music is good enough but according to me the background score of the film is KILLER, whoever has done it has done it wonderfully to elevate the mood of the era, it binds the film at times. If it was possible to buy just the background score of the film, I would buy it. Background score is what you take home, although the songs are nice and well fitted. ‘Duniya Mein’ remix has some bad choreography though, just like the good old days.
Acting wise, Ajay Devgn lives the role of Mastan nicel, he has done it all in past, he has played Dawood in RGV’s Company where he was the undisputed Don, here he plays a similar character of Haji Mastan, but a don with a different morality and sort of robin-hoodish nature, Emraan Hashmi fits his Dawood role even better as he resembles the look of Dawood as we know, but he is okay in certain scenes and looks bit confused in some. Kangana Ranaut and Prachi Desai follow the tradition of heroines of the 1970s, they have hardly anything to do. Kangana plays a ‘normal’ woman for a change and doesn’t say ‘Bastard’ even once !! Prachi Desai looks a bit misfit on the big screen and why her character likes the rogue Emraan Hashmi is anyone’s guess. Randeep Hooda playing the Policeman, whose story is this, looks well fitting in some parts and awkward in some, but overall he is nice in smallish role, although he could do well with few more expressions on his face.
The movie is good entertainment and watching it in packed hall reminds you of that long gone era when watching a movie in theaters was an event in itself. But the movie is not a great one, it reminds you of Ramgopal Verma’s far superior ‘Company’ and not-so-good prequel ‘D’. You tend to compare it with ‘Company’ every time. This film doesn’t have much of action or violence and deals more in drama of the era. The romantic parts also do not fit in with the mood.
Incidentally now all the 3 leading actors in the film have played Dawood Ebrahim’s role in 3 different films. Ajay Devgn in Company and Randeep Hooda in D played the role which Emraan Hashmi played in this movie. Dawood himself is a more a myth than real for most of us in India, but now we can safely he must be looking like Emraan Hashmi, acting and behaving like Ajay Devgn and hopefully falters like Randeep Hooda, pretty soon.
My Ratings : 6.5/10 – Worth taking a trip back to that era.