The ending of Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara! leaves one with a dreadful feeling that the filmmaker is not quite done with this franchise, letting the threat of a part three dangle over a thoroughly exhausted audiences’ heads. While the first film was quite tolerable, with some interesting moments taking us back to a time when movies were dialogue driven, the sequel is downright annoying.
Writer- director duo Rajat Aroraa and Milan Luthra had packed the first film with a lot of punch, contextualising the story of Mumbai’s gangsters by tracing the rise and fall of an ethical don Sultan Mirza (Ajay Devgn) and his eventual replacement by Shoaib Khan (Emraan Hashmi). The film alluded to the story of real-life gangsters- Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim which definitely added to the appeal of the film. The sequel however, takes all the substance out of the film and leaves us with rather hollow characters engaging in a non-stop dialogue-baazi session. While yesteryears films revelled in such witty exchange of lines, OUATIMD falls flat on its face. The dialogues and film are neither taali-maar nor ‘paisa- vasool.
Nearly three hours long, the film’s first half shows promise but can never quite find its rhythm. Akshay Kumar as Shoaib Khan is dull, delivering his dialogues in a guttural monotone. Donning huge sunglasses and smoking continuously, his character claims to be far more menacing than he actually turns out to be. Imran Khan as Aslam is a total misfit, visibly uncomfortable playing a small time mawwaali. He should probably stick to playing English speaking, urban, yuppy boys. Sonakshi Sinha as Jasmine, the object of both our heroes’ attention, is decent, but there isn’t much to her character anyway. Even in a done to death storyline about a love triangle and friendship, our heroine has so little to do that the film looks more like a bromance.
OUATIMD makes references to films like Amar Akbar Anthony and its characters seemingly occupy the same universe as Manmohan Desai’s unforgettable street smart heroes. Unfortunately the film only pays lip service to the masala genre that Desai pioneered, failing completely to capture the heart and soul of the streets of Mumbai as well as the absolute terror that gangsters inspire. Hopefully, Luthra will spare us the horror of sitting through another sequel.