Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara: All talk, no action
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
Milan Luthria’s tongue-twister of a movie “Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara!” is a hark back to the gangster films of the 1980s, the ones with mafia dons, their tempestuous love lives and all the complications that came with it.
But director Luthria and writer Rajat Arora are apparently convinced that they’ve come up with something original and clever. Their smugness shows on screen and gets on your nerves. For a gangster film, “Mumbai Dobaara” has just about three action scenes and even in the most crucial action sequence, the characters are busy delivering long-drawn-out homilies on loyalty and friendship. That is what this film is, really – all talk and no action.
And as for the talk itself, Arora’s dialogue has all the creativity of the quotes that appear on Facebook feeds. They are meant to be profound. But in the film, each character talks and talks and talks some more, until you want to hit the mute button – but there isn’t one.
Akshay Kumar plays the dreaded gangster Shoaib who orchestrates cricket matches in a Middle Eastern country. Shoaib flirts with his friend’s wives, wears dark glasses all the time and keeps repeating how he intends to rule Mumbai. (What that ruling may involve, we are never told).
An attempt on his life by a rival brings Shoaib to Mumbai in a quest for vengeance. But apart from a few token attempts to look for the enemy, Shoaib seems to have forgotten his mission. You would think a man who wants to rule Mumbai and runs a gangster squad can easily track his enemies. Instead, Shoaib busies himself in the pursuit of Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha), a wide-eyed and naïve actress.
What Shoaib doesn’t know is that Jasmine is in love with Aslam (Imran Khan), one of his own henchmen. Director Luthria takes a lot of time to set up the love triangle and then rushes its resolution in the last 20 minutes.
Writer Arora seems to have been busy working on clever lines that every character spouts in the film, ones that compare friendship to tyres, love to groundnuts and almonds and people to milk and cottage cheese.
Mediocre acting makes it worse. Akshay Kumar doesn’t even pretend to act – he saunters on to the screen and delivers dialogue with extreme nonchalance.
Imran Khan achieves new lows in his acting career – almost competing with Prateik Babbar in “Issaq”. He wiggles his eyebrows furiously, widens his eyes and tries hard to play the part of a menacing gangster but fails. Sonakshi Sinha tries to look coy, flutters her eyelashes, but her role doesn’t require her to do more.
“Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara!” is an exasperating movie experience that doesn’t deliver any of the action it promises. Stay far away from this one.