Written by : Rajat Arora
Cinematography : Raju Khan
Cinematography : Raju Khan
Producer : Ekta Kapoor,Sharan Kapoor
Director : Milan Luthria
Distributed by : Balaji Telefilms
Release date: 30 July 2010
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Hindi Movie Review:
Once upon a time in Hindi cinema there used to be the writer duo of Salim-Javed who induced drama in every scene merely by their metaphorical dialogues. Once upon a time in Hindi cinema there used to be directors like Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra, known for their high-voltage sagas, who devised filmi formula, which if not used with the requisite panache, could end up becoming corny clichés. Once upon a time in Hindi cinema there used to be actors of the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna who confronted through the intensity of eyes and their synchronized conversations. That time was the retro era of the 70s, the period in which this underworld drama is set. And the film gets the best of the era it revisits, reviving the combined cinematic charm of Salim-Javed, Manmohan Desai and Amitabh Bachchan. Director Milan Luthria recreates the underworld of 70s in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai with as much glamour and flamboyance as Farah Khan recreated the cine-world of 70s in the retroactive Om Shanti Om . There’s smuggling, cabaret, a Robin Hood don, vintage Mercedes cars, the quintessential Bollywood backdrop, R D Burman overtones in music, dramatic dialogue- baazi and substantial style.
Story and Analysis:
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. And then it gives you the more difficult task – to choose between these two glorified gangsters. The senior of the two is Sultaan Mirza (Ajay Devgan), a smuggler reigning in the 70s with typical Robin Hood traits to his character. Shoaib (Emraan Hashmi) looks up to Sultaan, trains under him only to go against his mentor to be the undisputed ruler of Mumbai, eventually. The entire film is seen in flashback mode through the eyes of Inspector Agnel (Randeep Hooda) who narrates the upheaval in the underbelly of Mumbai’s crime world from 70s to the 90s.
At the outset, the underworld setting and the basic plot of a senior don being challenged by his protégé might remind of Ram Gopal Varma’s Company , more so with Ajay Devgan playing the same part. But once into the film, you realize that the treatment in Rajat Arora’s screenplay and Milan Luthria’s direction has its individualistic approach and any analogy between the two gangster films are ruled out. Arora’s screenplay moves at a brisk pace to establish the upsurge of Sultaan, introduce the overambitious Shoaib, ascertain the faith of former in latter and concludes with Shoaib’s arrogance taking over. The scenes are short in length, several in number and packed with pulsating drama.
It would be a crime not to mention the theatrical touch that Rajat Arora adds to every second line of the film reviving the golden magic of Salim-Javed. The metaphors in the dialogues are so distinctive of 70s and different from today’s subtlety. Sample some semantic gems like – “ Sher se hall chalaoge to kisaan to marrega hi ”, “ Saari zindagi prasad nahi khaya aur aaj bhagwan hi badal liya ”, “ Ab supari lee hain toh chuna nahi lagaunga ”. Where else do you get to hear lines like these in contemporary cinema! A potential contender for the Best Dialogue Award!
Right from the early action sequence where a train derailment is averted, the film gets on track and sets the tempo right. One can’t deny that Ajay Devgan’s character is loosely modeled on real life gangster Haji Mastan in terms of his Madras origin, pure white dressing, chauffeur-driven Mercedes, smuggling trade, Bollywood connections and political aspirations. Emraan Hashmi’s Shoaib comes from noted underworld don Dawood Ibrahim whose father was also a police constable and connected to Mastan. The fresh chemistry between Ajay Devgan and Emraan Hashmi is a major highlight of the film. Note how the latter aspires to upgrade himself from being a standard smuggler to a sophisticated don – a term still nascent to the era. The pacing is swift and never lets you pause to ponder over what’s already happened. Rather you look forward to what will happen next. The end however seems somewhat abrupt. Also Emraan Hashmi’s tacky item track ( Baburao Mast Hai ) in the second half was absolutely unnecessary.
Ajay Devgan is authoritative as the smuggler, suave in his business and as much adorable as the starry-eyed lover of film actress. He glides through the role so effortlessly that you feel he was custom-made for the character. Emraan Hashmi, for once, gets above his loverboy image. In fact much above all his earlier acts, giving a remarkable performance as the aggressive mafia man wanting to take over the city. The rebellious and arrogant streak that he brings in his character is simply brilliant. Randeep Hooda impresses in his extended special appearance as the commanding cop and the imposing base effect that he brings to his voice adds depth to his character. Kangana Ranaut looks gorgeous as the ethereal yesteryear actress Rehana. Prachi Desai is natural and beautiful, both, in her act and appearance.
Technical and Other Departments:
The theme piece that plays in the background score is instantly infectious and you just can’t get over it even after the show ends. Art director Nitin Desai’s recreation of the 70s is impeccable as always. Costume designers Rushi Sharma and Manoshi Nath make Kangana Ranaut look stunning and desirable, add colorful flamboyance to Emraan and dress Devgan in decent designer whites. Cinematographer Aseem Mishra aptly captures glory of the Bombay of 70s. Choreographer Raju Khan promptly establishes romance through the songs, not letting the love story drag beyond music to the movie. Akiv Ali keeps the narrative crisp and quick with his flawless editing, never letting you lose the film for a second. Pritam’s soothing tunes ‘ Pee Loo ’ and ‘ Tum Jo Aaye ’ and the R.D.Burman styled cabaret number ‘ Parda ’ are chartbuster material.
As Sultaan Mirza switches from underworld to politics, he quotes, “ Maine apna tareeka badla hain, tevar nahi ” (I have changed by functioning, not my attitude). Director Milan Luthria might have upgraded the technique of filmmaking but his film radiates the same attitude of the retro era. Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai is revival of good old Hindi cinema. As Mumbai goes rewind, you look forward to a dynamic and gripping entertainer.