Thursday, August 15, 2013


Release date:
August 15, 2013
Milan Luthria


Akshay Kumar, Imran Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Pitobash, Sonali Bendre Behl, Chetan Hansraj

Those who’ve watched Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai will recall that it ended with Shoaib Khan (Emraan Hashmi) assassinating his mentor Sultan Mirza (Ajay Devgn). The two were said to have been inspired by real-life gangsters Dawood Ibrahim and Haji Mastan. Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara (OUATIMD) takes off where that film left off, with Akshay Kumar playing an older Shoaib and Sonali Bendre Behl making an appearance as his long-time lover Mumtaz whose younger version was played by Prachi Desai in the first film. In terms of story, what you see in the trailers is what you get with OUATIMD: Shoaib, now a senior don, falls out with his young protégé Aslam (Imran Khan) when they both fall in love with the same woman (Sonakshi Sinha). Simplicity can be a good thing, but not when it translates into lack of depth. And sadly, while there is much to toast, there is just too much to lament in OUATIMD.

The first film was far from brilliant but it did have memorable music, production design and costumes complementing a screenplay filled with 1970s/’80s style Bollywood dialoguebaazi that was enjoyable coming from actors who could carry off those flourishes. In Dobaara, the bad news is that Akshay’s heavy-voiced dialogue delivery makes too many of his lines sound tedious and contrived especially in serious scenes. The occasional glimpses of his trademark comic timing are not enough. The good news is that Imran Khan rises beyond expectations. The junior Khan is likeable but has so far come across as an actor whose performances have reflected his own urbane real-life personality. Here in OUATIMD, a long soliloquy in a hospital room shows that he still has a long way to go, but where he’s indulging in deliberately over-dramatised talk, he is far more convincing than his older co-star.

Sonakshi Sinha as Jasmine, the love of both their lives, is a mixed bag in this film. Coming as Dobaara does after her excellent performance in Lootera, it’s nice to see that here again she’s not just a pretty adjunct to the hero as she’s been in too many films with Salman Khan and Akshay himself. OUATIMD’s screenplay belongs as much to her as it does to her male co-stars which is a pleasant change in the male-dominated universe inhabited by Akshay and Salman. Sonakshi still needs to get past her extreme self-consciousness about her large eyes, pretty lashes (false or real, I can’t tell) and distinctive profile, which seems to have afflicted most of her directors too so far, but she is undoubtedly a natural actor who owes it to herself and good cinema to do more Looteras and less (god, it hurts to name the film) Jokers.

There are some significant asides worth noting in the casting. Gender norms have been turned on their head with the contrast between Imran’s slimness and Sonakshi’s largeness. It’s not that she’s overweight (absolutely not!) but this is a big-boned, broad-shouldered woman who does not conform to prevailing social diktats on female beauty. Aslam and Jasmine reminded me, in terms of physicality alone, of Huma Qureshi with a puny Nawazuddin Siddiqui in GoW 1&2. Little steps like these are what evolution and revolutions are made of. Interesting too that right after SRK’s character announced he’s 40 years old in Chennai Express, 30-year-old Imran gets to be the beau of 20-something Sonakshi while 45-year-old Akshay is the senior lusting after her. Perhaps Bollywood is finally seeing the light about age-appropriate roles for gentlemen.

Rajat Aroraa’s writing for OUATIMD is inconsistent. Some of the dialoguebaazi is amusing, it does have several effective thriller elements and does touch some emotional chords, especially in the climax; but Jasmine’s emotional graph is poorly explained and there’s only so much you can take of lines like “Naam bataa diya to pehchaan bura maan jayegi” and “Peene ki capacity, jeene ka strength, account ka balance aur naam ka khauf kabhi bhi kam nahin hona chahiye”. Director Milan Luthria (Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, The Dirty Picture) seems too acutely aware of having a major male star as his hero, or at least that’s the impression created by Akshay’s introduction scenes in which excessive time is taken to reveal his face. On the other hand, Shoaib’s initial interactions with Jasmine are filled with humour, though there’s nothing quite as funny in the film as the scene in which Aslam teaches her English and elsewhere when she must suffer the consequences of those lessons. Considering that this is a Bollywood gangster film, it’s surprisingly un-bloody. Some of the action is top-notch, most especially the long chase sequence within and atop a train involving a sprightly Aslam.

While care has been taken to maintain the film’s period look, the lack of attention to detail in other aspects is irritating (a woman lies in hospital after being shot in the back, with bandages underneath her unchanged – and almost unscathed – clothes). Most of the supporting cast are either unimpressive (Chetan Hansraj playing Shoaib’s sidekick Jimmy even sounds confusingly like Akshay) or they’re given short shrift which is so unfair when you’ve roped in talents like Mahesh Manjrekar and Pitobash. Vidya Balan is wasted in an inexplicable guest appearance. Sonali Bendre Behl though looks lovely (gosh, she’s ageing so gracefully!) and pitches in a neat performance which makes you wonder why Hindi filmdom doesn’t have bigger roles for her. Sandip Shirodkar’s background score is effective in building up the suspense, but Pritam’s songs – except for Yeh tune kya kiya – are nothing to write home about. Tyyeb Ali is more energetic in the film than it appeared to be in the trailer, but it’s hard to understand why this classic song has been reprised from Amar Akbar Antony when the music director, choreographer and director couldn’t give it half the zest and verve of the original and when, well let’s face it, Imran Khan ain’t no Rishi Kapoor!

OUATIMD is not an absolute washout though. Far from it. Despite its flaws, Luthria and editor Akiv Ali have given it a certain pace especially as it hurtles towards its rather unexpected climax. The lasting impression though is of a sliver of a project, not a fully fleshed out film.

Rating (out of five): **1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
2 hours 40 minutes


  1. I like the fact that you always speak the truth and your review is not biased at all...:)

  2. So what happen in the end of the movie???

  3. One time watch but it would be more interesting to watch the movie if imran hashmi would have been playing the role instead of AK... yet enjoyable to see romance of don and please directors and producers don't take sonakshi in your films ... she is only made for dabbang typo films!!