First thing first, I was completely floored by Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. The Ajay-Emraan starrer was one of the most engaging gangster flicks in my opinion, which succeeded primarily due to its absorbing screenplay, retro look, soulful music and riveting performances by the two leads at loggerheads- Ajay’s bouyant portrayal of Sultan Mirza clashing with his nemesis Shoaib, a defiant and ruthless character rendered wonderfully by Emraan. So expectations are bound to be high when its sequel is out in the theatres, with its promos promising to carry this legacy forward. But I felt a bit cheated after watching Once Upon Ay in Mumbaai Dobaara , because its masquerades a love triangle behind the veneer of a gangster drama. And ironically,its not even close to the high standards set by its prequel. In nutshell, Director Milan Luthria fails to replicate the novelty of his original here.
This basic plot of this rather inferior sequel revolves around Shoaib ( Akshay Kumar), the dreaded gangster/don who comes to Mumbaai with his coterie in the hunt of Rawal ( Mahesh Manjrekar). Aiding him in this mission is his trustworthy aide Aslam ( Imran Khan), along with his friend Dedh Tang ( Pitobash Tripathi). Both Shoaib and Aslam fall for a struggling actress Jasmine ( Sonakshi Sinha), who is “good’ friend with both but is unaware about their complicity and profession. As expected, things go haywire when the truth unravels, and the climax , to cut it short…involves who wins over whom !
The film starts with a bang, with an explosive introduction of the pivotal characters- Shoaib and Aslam- and some interesting sequences, including one well shot chase scene inside and the peripherials of a running train. The first odd 15-20 mins sets up the tone required for a underworld drama, and one expects the story to gain momentum. But the film slowly fizzles out and loses steam, with the focus diametrically shifting to the love triangle between the three leads. The flick loses its originality completely to a rather insipid love triangle, frustrating the viewer with an anticipation that some action will take precedence till the end. But what remains constant throughout the film is the voluble barrage of some interesting and most of the times, incomprehensible and overbearing dialogues. This aspect, was suitably mellowed in the prequel, and worked predominantly because of its ideal placement in the narrative. Here its inconsistent, and a bit too much sometimes. Some dialogues(Rajat Arora) deserves special mention though–Shoaibs take on love :”Pyaar aaj kal naukrani jaise ban gaya hai. Aata hai, bell bajata hai, kaam karke chala jaata hai“. On the changing face of Mumbai, Shoaib declares “Yeh bambai, Kumkum se Kimi Katkar mein badal gayi hai’ . On friendship , Aslam opines to Jasmine ” Dosts aasun ke tarah hote hain. Yahan Dil Dukha, wahan who bhi nikle“. Some scenes too stand out because of its novelty , specially in a scene where Shoaib storms through a police station with an intention to surrender himself, only to witness that he is completely ignored by the folks who are busy making plans to nab him anywhere he is seen.Ironically, these gems are too few and far between.
Akshay performs earnestly, lending his own unique swagger to his devilish act of Shoaib, but just like the film, his portrayal too gets banal because he just doesnt get the scope to be at the menacing best. Imran tries hard, but is unconvincing. Honestly, this role was never meant for him. He lacks the rustic and diabolical look which is imperative for a role like this. Infact, the two leads here fail to deliver a compelling clash here,a thing which was the standout feature of the first installment.
Sonakshi Sinha performs well, but she has done this before as well, so there is nothing new in her act. Abhimanyu Singh in the role of a cop is ok, but you sorely miss Randeep Hooda here . Mahesh Manjrekar is completely wasted, though, Sonali Bendre delivers an inspired cameo, and shines in almost every scene of hers. The remaining cast are adequate. Music is ok, but nothing in comparison to the soundtrack of the prequel.
If this film didnt had its illustrious original , i might have rated this film a bit more. But Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara reaffirms a fact that every successful film need not necessarily be made into a franchise. As Imran Khan mouths a dialogue in one of the scenes ” Teen Tigara Kaam Bigda“, this film is an absolute failure in comparison to a mesmerizing prequel–Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai.