Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

August 15, 2013

Three’s a crowd!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 7:40 pm

August 15, 2013

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Imran Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Mahesh Manjrekar, Sophie Chowdhary, Pitobash Tripathi, Sonali Bendre, Tiku Talsania

Director: Milan Luthria

Characters in Hindi movies tend to be more naïve than the audience that’s watching them on screen. The audience will guess early on that the most earnest cop in the unit is the traitor who’s been leaking information to the bad guy. Or that the person who talks about living life to the fullest will be diagnosed with a fatal condition. Or that two best friends who swear never to let anything come between them will find their relationship tested. The characters on screen are always the last to know; they invariably figure out these things well after the audience does. It’s an accepted fact in storytelling.

Yet the three protagonists in Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara aren’t just naïve, they’re plain stupid.

This disappointing sequel to 2010’s Ajay Devgan-Emran Hashmi starrer is constructed around the premise of a love triangle…the laziest love triangle you could possibly imagine. Shoaib (Akshay Kumar) is a mob boss. Aslam (Imran Khan) is his loyal protégé. Both men develop feelings for struggling actress Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha), who is close to Shoaib and Aslam. But Jasmin doesn’t know that Shoaib is a don, or that Aslam works for him, or even that Shoaib has designs on her. Shoaib and Aslam, meanwhile, are unaware that they’re both in love with the same girl. That’s way too many clueless people in one film!

The earlier installment, also directed by Milan Luthria, was nicely evocative of 70s nostalgia helped no doubt by Ajay Devgan’s insouciant take on a dreaded gangster. Akshay Kumar, on the other hand, replaces Devgan’s sexy nonchalance with in-your-face flamboyance. Dark glasses perched permanently on his nose, puffing away on a cigarette, Akshay swaggers into the frame as Shoaib, offering the promise of a deliciously unapologetic anti-hero.

It doesn’t help that writer Rajat Arora, as if to compensate for the flimsy plot, goes into overkill mode with wise-ass dialogues. Unlike the earlier film, which paid homage to the Salim-Javed era of memorable one-liners, this sequel is a full-fledged assault of rat-a-tat punch lines. When asked by a flunkie why he’s recruited two young kids to join his gang, Shoaib responds: “Doodh mein nimboo jisne daala, paneer uski”. On the changing face of the city, he says: “Yeh bambai, Kumkum se Kimi Katkar mein badal gayi hai”, and on love he delivers this gem: “Pyaar aaj kal naukrani jaise ban gaya hai. Aata hai, bell bajata hai, kaam karke chala jaata hai.”

If the love triangle isn’t particularly compelling, it’s because it’s hard to get to the real emotions of the characters, buried as they are beneath all that cockiness. Imran Khan as Aslam, ostensibly the hero of this film, appears ill at ease rolling those corny lines off his tongue, and resembling a rich urban kid slumming it out as a tapori at a dress-up party. Sonakshi Sinha’s Jasmine has got to be the most pea-brained woman you’ve ever met. She happily lets Shoaib rig awards for her, and thinks it’s cute when he turns up on her set and halts shooting. She hangs out with him at his home, takes lifts with him in his car, but claims to be outraged when he says he has feelings for her. Fresh off her terrific performance in Lootera, Sonakshi constructs a singularly contemptible character in Jasmine. Akshay Kumar, for all those sinister threats, ultimately turns Shoaib into a laughable cliché. He goes on and on about being a villain, but we never see him get truly down and dirty.

The film does have a few strong bits, including an inspired cameo by Sonali Bendre, and a clever scene in which Shoaib walks into a police station intending to surrender himself. But these are small mercies in a major misfire as this. Too long at over 150 minutes, and way too predictable to ever surprise you, Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara is the equivalent of getting a root canal.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five. Call me cynical, call me a spoilt-sport, but don’t call me if they decide to make Once Upon A Time in Mumbai 3!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. haha nice review…i hated the trailers of the film and also the fact that there is actually a sequel to the previous one.this one did not need a franchise.

    Comment by maria — August 15, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

  2. Good review masand.keep it up man.

    Comment by Rajeev Ranjan — August 15, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  3. Hindi cinemas are producing worst and worst enough…

    Comment by k ali hamzah — August 15, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

  4. this is what happens when a film maker who has given two back to back blockbusters ,gets caught up in the formula mode which made them hit and forgets the main essence of storytelling,sad

    Comment by ray.m — August 15, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

  5. Awesome… A frank opinion… Thanx n Keep it up!

    Comment by Priyash — August 15, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

  6. I totally agree with you..

    Comment by amod mehra — August 15, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

  7. how crappier is movie-viewing these days!!! it shouldn’t even be termed a ‘love story’…

    Comment by Shankz — August 15, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

  8. I really don’t get the process as to what qualifies as a sequel and what doesn’t in Bollywood.. I mean the first film claimed to be a take on the life of real life dons from the 70s-80s. And this movie is a complete fiction with the only thing in common with the first movie being the City and the Era. If we go by this logic I can claim Vidhu Vinod Chopra 1942 Love Story to be a sequel to Attenborough’s Gandhi !
    Mr. Masand, going through most Indian films you must feel like evaluating the exam papers of a class of retards.
    I mean even countries with dictatorial regimes and state restriction on artistic expression produce better cinema. Take Iran for example.

    Comment by Rohit Rane — August 15, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

  9. Good Rajiv,,,!! true.

    Comment by Amit — August 15, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

  10. Awesome Sir. Well said

    Comment by raghuram — August 16, 2013 @ 12:01 am

  11. liked the line ..”Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara is the equivalent of getting a root canal.”… it is for sure…! your reviews are so geniune…and clear….! you have made your reviews a way of trusting you … than the fraud film makers.. your reviews really stands diffrnt… and for audience… not to please any stars.. , please continue your great work with courage. All the best .

    Comment by Somnath — August 16, 2013 @ 1:39 am

  12. Ok, so this is worse then CE? Seriously? Think you were too harsh

    Comment by Maya — August 16, 2013 @ 2:21 am

  13. I knew result of this film when Akshay was finalized, I was sure he can not pull it off this role no matter what. there is no comparison to original.

    Comment by Deepika — August 16, 2013 @ 8:02 am

  14. Other prominent clichés include:
    – if the hero has a sister, she’s likely to be raped or killed very soon
    – the police arrive after the villain or the parent/ patient/ token sister has been killed off
    – A temple or a puja introduced early in the film is where the mom is gonna ask the same God for justice/ revenge etc
    – Long hating enemies are likely to turn friends by the end of the film
    Look forward to continuing this list

    Comment by Anjum — August 16, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  15. Fantastic review…. I enjoyed this review after watching the movie… Thank god I watched that bakwas movie only to enjoy my last 5 min of reading.

    Comment by samarrs — August 16, 2013 @ 10:22 am

  16. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five. Call me cynical, call me a spoilt-sport, but don’t call me if they decide to make Once Upon A Time in Mumbai 3! Good one.

    Comment by Gururaj — August 16, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  17. Once upon a time in Mumbai….. Teesra!
    Shohaib: Kamal Rashid Khan (KRK)

    Comment by Arindam Sarkar — August 16, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

  18. Looks like the audience is finally maturing, hence we see a total consensus … at least so far.

    Comment by MovieBuff — August 16, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  19. haha good review Sir!

    Comment by Akshay — August 16, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

  20. man yu saved my money 😛 thanks a ton 😀

    Comment by JEEV — August 16, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

  21. I thing we should stop watching hindi films _ Every year more than 250 films releases but not more than 5 % are good . Can we watch any recent movie for more than once or buy a blue ray of that film . Just see Koren , french movie which are far more superior than our hindi crap. Just why piracy runs in India because people don’t want to waste money & be disappointed

    Comment by manoj — August 16, 2013 @ 11:54 pm

  22. Good one..I didn’t like the first one so there is no point in considering the dobarra.

    Comment by Atul — August 17, 2013 @ 11:01 am

  23. Fully bakwas movie.. i agree with your review

    Comment by Ashraf — August 17, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

  24. Now day films r just made .soul is missing sad

    Comment by rajesh — August 17, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

  25. good review… worst movie i have seen…akshay n all totally waste…. milan lutharia dissapointed me..

    Comment by nagesh — August 17, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

  26. @RM, Thanks for saving our time and money once again! Respect.

    @Monoj, Nothing justifies Piracy. Not even bad movies. And all film industries, including Korean & French, create bad movies. You get to see only the good stuff from foreign production houses because only the good ones gets spoken about. It is unnatural for any system to create only good stuff. Moreover people in India are much more lenient on bad movies that you seem to suggest. Look at the top grossers of this year alone, do you think they are good movies?

    And about good recent movies, I’ll point out three gems from this year: Raanjhanaa, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola & Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Not Oscar winning entries, but brave enterprises nonetheless.

    Comment by Anupam Ashish — August 18, 2013 @ 9:57 am

  27. bakwas review it was really a nice movie better than chennai express

    Comment by bharat — August 18, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

  28. well, this is for all those who are singing praises for foreign films (Iranian, Korean) while castigating Indian films. Please keep in mind that the Iranian/Korean/French films you watch are the best ones in that year from that country. A lot of trashy movies are made there too, and as a matter of fact anywhere. If you were to pick 5 movies from across India to show to the world as Indian movies, I am pretty sure, the world will have a very positive view of Indian cinema, as you would easily get 5 sensible, meaningful cinema made in a year. So don’t jump to conclusions, and wallow in self-deprecation, and instead pick and choose what you want to watch. I am sure you would find gems from different parts of India as well

    Comment by sukirti — August 19, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

  29. Hello Rajeev,

    I follow your reviews religiously, but i am a bit disappointed when i put he rating for this and Chennai Express together..

    U gave 2 stars to the shittiest big budget movie in the history of Bollywood.. and in this which in comparison is a much bare-able movie is given 1.5 stars.. 🙁

    Comment by Tushar G — August 19, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

  30. Rolling on the floor and laughing after reading your review… 😀 Reading your review itself is so entertaining Mr. Masand… Keep the good job going… I hope the Bollywood producers and directors learn a lesson or two from your reviews….

    Comment by Varaprasad — August 19, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

  31. Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara is the equivalent of getting a root canal. This is an epic statement.
    I wish I can take english lessons from Mr Masand, he is superb!!!

    Comment by Amit — August 23, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

  32. one of the worst movies i have seen in recent times!! Never expected this from a sequel !!

    Comment by narendra — August 24, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

  33. good one rajeev..OUATIM dint need a dobaara!!

    Comment by lakshmi — August 26, 2013 @ 12:46 am

  34. Epic movie (Y) must watch !

    Comment by Puspa Ammai — September 25, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  35. ^ Rohit, so true about Iran! I wonder the same thing.. How are they able to produce such classic pieces with all those restrictions? And why is Bollywood not maturing!? It’s so frustrating at times.

    Comment by Shridevi J — November 2, 2013 @ 7:54 am

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