Saturday, July 31

Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai

Movie - Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (Hindi)
Director - Milan Luthria
Producers - Shoba Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor
Cast - Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda, Kangna Ranaut, Prachi Desai
Music - Pritam
Cinematography - Aseem Mishra
Background Score - Sandeep Shirodkar
Editor - Akiv Ali
Art Director - Nitin Chandrakant Desai
Action - Abbas Ali Moghul
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Rajat Aroraa
Release Date - 30th July 2010

Gangster movies are always a treat to watch. You get to see all that you want, but cannot have - the power, the money, the rides, the girls, the fear, the respect, everything!! And when one is served a gangster movie with a full-on retro feel, taking us back to the underworld of Mumbai in the 70s, he must be totally excited to be watching it on first day, first show. Which is exactly what I did, and I should say that I enjoyed the trip back to the Mumbai of yore complete with a kickass background score. 

Synopsis - Seen through the eyes of a police officer, ‘Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai’ traces the changing face of the Mumbai underworld and how it all started. The film, set primarily in 1970 s Mumbai, follows the rise of Sultan (Ajay Devgn), and the conflict, when his protégé Shoaib (Emraan Hashmi), challenges his supremacy, and usurps power to rule the murky underbelly of Mumbai. 

Despite disclaimers stating that there are no resemblances to any particular individual(s), there are obvious references at many places in the movie which tells us whose story we are really watching. We have seen the stories of some of the characters in the movie told by other filmmakers as well. (Nayakan, Company). The story of a righteous underworld don and his power-hungry protégé, has been told many times in our films, but it is the period setting and the retro-chic narrative style that makes a difference to this movie. It reminds us of the Salim-Javed /Amitabh Bachchan movies of that period and maintains that spirit throughout. Kangna even refers to a new actor 'Amit' who can play Sultan's character if a film gets made on him. (Deewaar anyone??) Everything about the movie - the look, the cars, the clothes, the music and even the dialogues take you back to the 70s. 

Ajay Devgn has played the same role before in Company, but not once does his Sultan Mirza remind you of Mallik from Company. His performance is fresh and totally stylized. Dressed in white and white throughout the film, he looks every bit like the ruler of Mumbai. Such kind of intensity on screen can be brought out only by Ajay Devgn right now in Hindi Cinema. Emraan Hashmi is good, but could have been a bit more aggressive towards the penultimate reels. The actor shines in the intitial portions through which his character is established, but does not create the required impact once he takes over the empire. He looks great and plays his part well, but it definitely could have been better. Randeep Hooda puts up a surprisingly restrained performance and comes back from oblivion with a bang. Though he is credited only in a special appearance, he is as crucial as Ajay or Emraan to the movie. Kangna Ranaut plays the Bollywood diva elegantly and it was a great relief to see her playing a non-psychotic role for a change. The romantic portions between her and Ajay are developed beautifully. Producer Ekta Kapoor's favourite Prachi Desai looks cute and plays her part well. 

This is Milan Luthria's best work so far. The director had impressed us with his earlier outings like Kachche Dhaage and Taxi No 9211. But this time around, he has made a movie which will be equally appealing for the masses and the classes. His retro style treatment is what makes the movie stand out. The dialogues by Rajat Aroraa are truly of the 'seeti-maar' kind, like the ones that used to come in the films of the 70s and 80s. And it is interesting to note that despite being a gangster flick, the film has very little action, bloodshed and violence. Everything is said through the scenes and dialogues. That kind of impact is much better than that created through elaborate stunt sequences. Rajat Aroraa's screenplay is engaging throughout and not one scene is unwanted. 

Music by Pritam is very good with two melodious tracks, 'Pee Loon' and 'Tum Jo Aaye' inserted seamlessly into the narrative. It is very difficult to add effective romantic interludes in gangster flicks, but the romantic portions of the movie and the songs are handled very well, without hampering the narrative. The disco remix of RD Burman's 'Duniya Mein Logon Ko' along with an action scene was a good touch. But more than the music, it is the background score by Sandeep Shirodkar which makes the movie work. The film has an insane theme track where electric guitars go off in full retro style whenever Emraan Hashmi comes on screen. One would certainly feel like walking in slow motion to that track once he comes out of the theater. Though it seems a little inspired from a track from RocknRolla, it still sounds kickass and takes the movie to greater levels. Aseem Mishra's excellent cinematography captures the different shades of the Mumbai of the 70s. One of the best works of the year so far. (Maybe THE best after Raavan). Nitin Chandrakant Desai has become a master in recreating the past and he excels in this one too. The costumes, styling and make-up are also impressive. 

On the whole, Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai is an enjoyable trip back to the Mumbai of the 70s. The dialogues are clap-worthy, the music kickass, the performances perfect and the full treatment is great. Once upon a time, there used to be totally dhinchaak paisa vasool Hindi fillums. This movie almost reaches there. It could have been a lot more better, but in its present state also, this movie is certainly worth spending your money on. 

Rating - 3.5/5

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