|Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Dobara|
|Sonakshi Sinha, Akshay Kumar, Imran Khan|
‘Main khiladi tha, ab poora khel hoon,’ (first I was the player, now I am the entire game) declares underworld kingpin Shoaib (Akshay Kumar). It’s interesting how this pompous statement reflects the character’s sentiments while also referencing Kumar’s ‘khiladi’ days.
He also claims to wear his dark glasses because someone said his future would be too bright. He justifies recruiting two kids saying, ‘doodh mein nimbu jisne dala, paneer uska’. Sheesh, these dialogues are straight from nightmare land.
More: when seducing a married woman, he says “aaj raat poora maal leke ghar aa jaana’, while telling her the colour of underclothes she must wear.” So charming, no? And all this in a film rated U/A. He then proceeds to grab her by the hair and that’s where the scene thankfully ends.
So Shoaib the boss-man walks in slow-mo, smoking at all times, to define an outdated cool. (To be fair the film is set in the ‘80s.) Everyone fears him, shudders at his name and yada yada. How sad that most of this info is provided by him only, even as he thunders, ‘I am a villain. Villain!’ Braggy, much?
He has a ‘meet-cute’ with Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha) who has a propensity for popping up conveniently to take the story forward. He falls for her, but she thinks of him as just a friend. You heard that right, she thought that the self-confessed gangster, who’s talking of giving her chaand-taare, was her best bud. Totally normal situation for a ‘simple’ new girl in town.
Meanwhile, Shoaib’s trusted soldier Aslam (Imran Khan) meets her through a friend and falls for her too. He first spots her when he’s singing that iconic ‘Tayyab Ali Pyaar Ka Dushman’ song, which this film almost manages to kill. It’s cringe-inducing to see Vidya Balan (in a two-second cameo) as the hidden girlfriend of the old man in the song.
Jasmine doesn’t ask too many questions and gets friendly with both men, without ever asking what they do. Meanwhile, Mahesh Manjrekar hams his way through a villain’s part.
The film’s strength is its attention to detail – costumes, art direction, and blasts from the past like old songs. The cinematography (Ayananka Bose) is interesting, and makes quite a few scenes (like the one with the trains) stand out. The music is likeable.
Akshay Kumar’s is a largely one-dimensional performance, where he’s consistently straight-faced to look like boss-man and menacing. Imran Khan is likeable as the lover-boy caught between love and loyalty, but even he can’t soar above the mediocre story. Sonakshi Sinha does well despite the hazy characterization.
Milan Luthria directed Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai in 2010 – a film with a riveting story and fine performances. The sequel is sadly a washed-out version. The film has a self-serious tone that gets too heavy. About the only comic relief comes in the second half when Shoaib enters a police station.
Otherwise it’s a melange of inflated dialogue desperate for applause, an unconvincing story, and love triangle we don’t really care for. Watch it only if you must.
Rating: Two stars