India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Once Upon A Time in Mumbai: Blast into the past


Milan Luthria’s “Once Upon A Time in Mumbai” is a mostly-gripping, but dumbed-down mafia thriller that focuses on two men who dominated the Mumbai underworld for the most part of the seventies and eighties.

Despite denials from the makers of the film, it is easy to see that the story is based on underworld don Haji Mastan and his one-time protégé Dawood Ibrahim.

Luthria takes us back to the era of handlebar moustaches, bell bottomed pants and the Mumbai of the 70′s, which, if you live in South Mumbai, doesn’t seem vastly different from what it is now.

Ajay Devgan plays smuggler Sultan Mirza, who is like a modern day Robin Hood who, we are told, controls all of Mumbai. He gives hundreds of rupees to beggars, takes care of his men and smuggles “only things that the government doesn’t permit, not things that my conscience doesn’t allow”.