Directed by: Milan Luthria
Starring: Akshay Kumar,Sonakshi Sinha, Imran Khan, Sonali Bendre
All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
Well shut me up. I was all ready to bring on some world class snark for Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara! (OUATIMD) with the majority reserved for the ridiculous abomination of a title. And like fuel for a Dusshera bonfire, the trailer seemed to suggest that a writing equivalent of beating a punchbag was on the table.So ready to tear it down, I chuckled at the start when one of the brand partners misspelt their own tagline, ready to snark. Except 20 minutes into the film, I was not cringing or laughing but actually interested.
OUATIMD is a dark tale which not only has a decent emotional base but even questions itself at times and provides an answer like a automated script writing workshop. But I certainly didn’t expect the engaging drama, solid characterisation and a steady pace with unnecessary clutter kept to a minimum. This is not to say the film isn’t without flaws but someone somewhere seems to have understood each strand needed to be fully developed to make for a stronger screenplay and the result is better than expected.
But it was the performances that had me falling off my seat in open mouthed shock (and I must add no-one is holding a gun to my head/paying me to write this). They are actually decent. Kumar actually creates a character with a bit of depth and fully submits to give what I consider his career best – forget Special 26 which was his usual nonsense watered down – his Shoaib genuinely doesn’t know how to function in any other way than his current state and the honesty comes through. Even Khan shows some promise as Aslam, not always succeeding but the improvement is beyond recognition and he works well with both his co-stars. For me, Sinha was the star, proving she is more than a 100 crore club glam doll. Her author backed role sees her stepping up to the plate and trying hard to create a three dimensional character which she does mostly manage to do.
I have no idea why this was tacked on to the OUATIM franchise in such a off hand way – yes the thematic similarities are there (and Kumar is meant to be Hashmi – WTF) but if this film had marketed itself as a Gangs of Wasseypur for the masses, I would have approached it with a different and perhaps more open mindset. Having said that, to turn cynicism into optimism is no mean feat and OUATIMD clearly benefits from the workshop style refinement that I usually champion. I am no Akshay/Imran fan but I would recommend this film – whilst it doesn’t match the high of the first, it does create an identity (of sorts) for itself and could have easily have gone wrong. Like I did, give it a fair chance and you too may be surprised. This must be the curveball offering of the decade so far!