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J. Brandon Hill
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During March 1993, after his Ambassador car is being fished out of water, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Agnel Wilson, narrates to the Commissioner as to how he commenced his investigation against an underworld gangster, Sultan Mirza. He details how Sultan had survived floods in Madras, shortly after Independence; his arrival in Bombay; and his employment which earned him a mere 25 Paisa daily. Agnel's attempts to rein in Sultan fail, but he keeps tabs on him and his romance with Bollywood actress, Rehana; as well as his new recruit, Shoaib, the son of Sub-Inspector Khan. Agnel will find his investigation slipping out of his hands after Sultan temporarily delegates complete responsibility to Shoaib. Written by
Emraan Hashmi's character Shoaib Khan is loosely based on the underworld leader, Dawood Ibrahim. Dawood Ibrahim was on Forbes 2008 list of The World's 10 Most Wanted criminals. Ajay Devgan who plays Sultan Mirza and Randeep Hooda who plays ACP Agnel Wilson also played characters based on Dawood Ibrahim in Company (2002) and 'D' (2005). See more »
In one of the scenes Sultan Mirza is shown removing the railroad tracks and the railway sleeper or railroad tie are made of concrete. These concrete sleepers were introduced in India in early to mid 90s during the 70s there used to be wooden railway sleeper or railroad tie. See more »
There used to be a time when Bollywood was overly glamorous, the middle class always in awe of the rich, law that was still being written and order that was established by the ruling underworld mafia and when, a crore of rupees really meant a lifetime's wealth. Lives were less valuable back then and nobody lit candles for the fallen. This was when the city was called 'Bombay'. Director Milan Luthria takes us to 'Once upon a time in Mumbaai' in the era of a smuggler who sought control of the seas and his apprentice who changed the meaning of crime altogether.
The inspiration for the character of Sultan Mirza (Ajay Devgan) was certainly derived from the erstwhile RobinHood Smuggler Haji Mastan Mirza. Sultan's attire, his background, his occupation, his interest for the welfare of the poor, his love for a Bollywood heroine and production of movies are obvious parallels to Mastan. Devgan portrays his character with ease and familiarity but makes a remarkable impression with the dialogues written by Rajat Arora. The movie is a bible for the man on the streets in Bombay. Each one as if a quotation by a philosopher and yet dramatic in effect when combined with a sharp screenplay. The result is what you would relate to as a Salim-Javed penned underworld drama. Sultan's love interest is the glamorous looking Rehana (Kangana Ranaut) who falls for his one-liners and cleanly ironed white outfits. Kangana looks gorgeous and performs naturally in a role that also is familiar territory for her. She even over-shines the beautiful Prachi Desai who could do with a meatier role next time.
In the aftermath of the '93 serial blasts, a despondent ACP Agnel Wilson (Randeep Hooda) regretfully narrates the tale of how two criminals shaped the future of the city and how he trusted the wrong one among the two to turn away from the underworld. His mistake resulted in just one of them surviving the decades of criminal dominance when the ghoda was the law and Shoaib Khan's apathy to the city, was the order. Although Emraan Hashmi has portrayed similar negative roles in the past, he adds some sleekness to a reckless character who would shape up to be Dawood Ibrahim. Shoaib's ambition makes him greedy, zealous and rash. Eventually, his ways diverge completely from the more humble, loop-hole smuggling approach of Sultan's who, as everyone acknowledged, never caused harm to the city but instead, bestowed it with generosity towards the masses. This disparity in attitudes is supremely entertaining. Here we have Sultan enraged over Shoaib's management of his business in his absence, ordering his men "Shehar Saaf chahiye mujhe!" The combination of such screenplay and dialogues is essentially the strength of this film and the reason why it has its place in the hallmark of crime sagas.
Pritam's two romantic tracks make up whatever good there is in the album. Mohit Chauhan's melodious Pee Loon and the combination of Tulsi Kumar and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan make Tum Jo Aaye a hummable track in the romantic rains.
Milan Luthria directs his best after the promising 'Kachche Dhaage' with some powerful writing by Rajat Arora. Numerous scenes are packed with metaphorical dialogues that will build the required tension without any drama. The background music, cinematography and the crisp editing also make this a commendable thriller. Perhaps there hasn't been a more worthy tribute to the real Dons of yesteryears and even though, the climax does not bear any resemblance to characters or events in real life, the end-note pays a serious tribute that sums up the story and leaves us with a helpless grasp of events that have taken place in real life, due to a real person. "Beyond the myth, lies Mumbai's greatest betrayal."
8.148 on a scale of 1-10.
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