Saturday, August 17, 2013

Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara  

The D Thing

The spectators are waiting, the captains of the two teams are impatient for the toss, but the cricket match cannot start till Shoeib Khan enters the stadium. And he strides in like royalty, waving to fans. And while he fixes the match, he also picks up an excitable women in the stands, telling her to come to his party dressed in a black sari and red inners--which she does and looks happy about it too. He always wears dark glasses, because his future is so bright (he says), smokes like a bonfire and uses his fingers to put out his cigarettes. He enjoys being evil, and speaks in bombastic style, like he were a cross between Genghiz Khan and Alexander the Great, only his conquest is limited to the Mumbai underworld.

Bollywood has consistently glorified the don—he who cannot be named—but Milan Luthria’s Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara is one step short of erecting a monument to the man in the middle of the Arabian Sea.  Maybe after the inevitable ‘Tibara’ they will, and get it over with...they might as well also declare his birthday a national holiday, while they are at it.

 Shoeib (Akshay Kumar) captured the reins of Mumbai, even though the only show of strength he has are two henchmen.  For a change, the cops are not seen as nincompoops, but actually trying to do their jobs well. There’s a scene in which cops tail Shoeib’s friend Mumtaz (Sonali Bendre Behl), and suddenly find themselves surrounded by several taxis with the same number, carrying one burqa-clad passenger.

The don who stays one step ahead of his rivals and the cops, falls helplessly in love with a dim-witted starlet Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha), who doesn’t know who he is. But she is in love with Shoeib’s protégé and loyalist Aslam (Imran Khan). She conducts a wide-eyed flirtation with both, however, and is dismayed when Shoeib makes a play for her.

The plot is thin, and the film long, which means that after half the film is spent in building up Shoeib’s image, the rather uninteresting love triangle gets second place. Since you can’t bring yourself to care for any of the three characters, it hardly matters how the situation is resolved.

Apart from the excellent production design and adventurous cinematography, Luthria has got his writer Rajat Aroraa to pen old-style dialogue, so the characters just never have a normal conversation—they speak in clever one-liners.

Akshay Kumar smirks like his face would fall apart if he faltered, and Imran Khan looks like he was playing fancy dress.  Sonakshi Sinha’s ‘innocence’ would have been charming if it wasn’t so fake; a girl who comes from Kashmir to Mumbai and becomes an actress, can hardly retain such little-girl naivete.

The first One Upon A Time... film had a plot and a level of authenticity in capturing the rise of the organised crime in Mumbai, this Dobaara has no reason to exist, except perhaps as a bridge to part three of the franchise, presumably when the don runs his criminal empire from exile.


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