OUATIMD takes off from where the first part ended. Shoaib (Now Akshay Kumar) who killed his mentor in the past to gain supremacy repeats history as he, in a similar fashion of his mentor, picks up a nobody from the streets and teaches him the tricks of the trade. 12 years later, Shoaib is the ruling mafia king from Mumbai all the way till Arab (read Dubai) and the nobody Aslam (Imran Khan) one of his favourites in the convoy.
Shoaib’s quest to nail down his rival Rawal (Mahesh Manjrekar) brings him back to Bombay which is where he stumbles upon a young actress – Yasmin (Sonakshi Sinha). He is immediately taken in by her freshness, beauty and candor. Slowly, but surely his attraction towards Yasmin goes onto becoming an obsession. And little does his know that his own protegee Aslam will come in his way for the latter too takes an instant liking to Yasmin. This creates a rift between Shoaib and Aslam and results in the ultimate showdown between the mentor & protegee.
First things first! Milan Luthria, who replicated the bygone era in his last two films [ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI and THE DIRTY PICTURE] successfully, seems like a complete pro in recreating the long-gone decades with flourish. Right from the ambiance to the outfits to the dialogue the protagonists or the assorted characters deliver, everything mirrors the 1970s and 1980s with accuracy and aptitude.
Unfortunately, the first hour doesn’t cut ice, focusing on the mandatory light moments, songs and dramatic moments that seldom seize your attention. However, Milan and writer Rajat Aroraa make sure they reserve the best for the second hour, packing the film with heavy-duty drama and conflict that makes it captivating and engaging. Also, Milan doesn’t resort to action and bloodshed — the key aspects that are inevitable for any gangster film — to carry the story frontward. These elements, although part of the narrative, are used as garnishing wherever essential. In a way, Milan attempts a gangster film, but steers clear of factors that could eclipse the love story, drama and conflict in the narrative.
While the prequel held the spectators by its ears and eyes, ONCE UPON AY TIME IN MUMBAI DOBAARA! suffers because the grip is absent from the very start itself [which was the highpoint of the prequel]. Also, the villain [Mahesh Manjrekar] is just not authoritative or commanding enough here. But the writer springs a surprise by making the don [Akshay] vicious and vindictive towards the latter half, which adds a lot of weight to the proceedings. The final moments, starting with the fiery confrontation involving Akshay and Sonakshi, when she mistakes his friendship for love, right till the closing stages of the film, the graph of the film only soars upwards.
Milan gets ample support from the DoP [Ayananka Bose; top notch] as well as the art department [well done, yet again!] to impart his vision on screen. The styling is unflawed, while the background score enlivens the ambiance at numerous junctures. The high point, of course, is the dialogue penned by Rajat Aroraa, which contributed enormously to the last two films and makes a significant contribution this time too. The conversations are compelling, forceful and power-packed. Pritam’s music is in sync with the mood of the film. ‘Yeh Tune Kya Kiya’ and ‘Tayyab Ali’ [from AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY] are noteworthy compositions.
Milan is a connoisseur who extracts proficient performances from his actors and this is apparent in ONCE UPON AY TIME IN MUMBAI DOBAARA! as well. Akshay enacts the grey character with flourish. He adds a lot of novelty and uniqueness to his character, underplaying it magnificently and modulating his voice dexterously. After playing urban characters in his earlier films, Imran plays a desi character [his second this year!] this time, catching you by complete surprise yet again. It won’t be erroneous to state that he’s the dark horse. Sonakshi seems to be improving with every film. Besides exuding the right amount of innocence, she goes on to demonstrate that she can handle emotional outbursts really well, especially during the climax confrontation with Akshay.
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