February 21, 2020
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Once Upon A Time In Mumbai

So what’s making it click big time? This year’s first out-and-out masala entertainer.

Once Upon A Time In Mumbai
Once Upon A Time In Mumbai

Starring: Ajay Devgan, Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Ranaut
Directed by Milan Luthria
Rating: **

Milan Luthria’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbai starts off with the bomb blasts of 1993 and then goes back to the ’70s and ’80s. Loosely based on the rise and fall of Haji Mastan (Devgan doing a Robin Hood act) and the rise and rise of Dawood Ibrahim (Hashmi, corrupt and compromised to boot), it hints at how the law’s inability to curb Dawood may well have resulted in the eventual tragedy. But that’s that. It’s just a hint and not a full-scale examination of the whys and wherefores, as was done in Black Friday for instance. To compare OUTIM to other underworld films like Company and Satya would also be gross injustice to them considering they were a far more textured look into the mafia machinations. OUTIM doesn’t go beyond the obvious and essentially remains nothing more than a straightforward tale about how the new order takes over from the old in the underworld hierarchy.

So what’s making it click big time? It’s because OUTIM is this year’s first out-and-out masala entertainer. Clearly, Luthria has made this film to make the crowd clap and whistle along. The ’70s is recreated not just in terms of the set design and costumes but also in trying to replicate the spirit of the cinema of those years. So what stands out are the dialogues. For the past few years, Hindi cinema has done away with bombastic dialoguebaazi and turned more real and conversational. In OUTIM, it’s back to the grandiloquent lines of yore. Sample: “Jahan maa ki izzat nahin wahan main baap banke aata hoon”. After an interim, the pomposity does sound refreshing. Only wish Luthria had not stacked so many of these dialogues, one upon another. In overdoing it so deliberately, he ends up spoofing the ’70s cinema than replicating it. Also OUTIM may have laugh-out-loud moments, be it the young Hashmi character acting smart or Devgan wooing Kangana with Rs 400 worth of guava, but there is not enough dramatic tension which underlined the narratives of the ’70s and ’80s, no real big scenes to remember forever. My hunch is one such throwback film might work its magic but two-three more treading on similar ground will not be able to sustain the audience interest. Watch it for timepass.

High Fives


  1. Once Upon a Time in Mumbai
  2. Khatta Meetha
  3. Twilight Saga: Eclipse (dubbed)
  4. Tere Bin Laden
  5. Chakravyuh (dubbed)


  1. Inception
  2. Dinner for Schmucks
  3. Salt
  4. Despicable Me
  5. Charlie St. Cloud


  1. The Crow and the Butterfly (Shinedown)
  2. Lay Me Down (Dirty Heads, Rome)
  3. In One Ear (Cage the Elephants)
  4. Another Way to Die (Disturbed)
  5. The Good Life (Three Days Grace)

Courtesy: Film Information

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