Synopsis: Reigning don Shoaib (Akshay Kumar) falls in love with new actress Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha) amid his bid to control all of Bombay by taking down Rawal (Mahesh Manjrekar). The only problem is that Jasmine is also hanging around Aslam (Imran Khan), Shoaib’s understudy (though she thinks he’s a tailor). Of course this can’t end well.
I must say first that I’m not a huge fan of gangster/underworld movies. I haven’t seen the first Once Upon A Time in Mumbai Dobaara. But the trailer looked sort of cool and I love both Akki and Imran, so I wasn’t completely without hope as I went into the theater.
But it turns out OUATIMD (dammit even the acronym is long!) really isn’t typical Akki at all as he plays a not (intentionally) comical badass, and Imran is, well... In some ways, he’s not a whole lot different.
Imran plays a man who hates even the idea of love — where have we heard this before? Oh, yeah, maybe something called I Hate Luv Storys (and Delhi Belly, and MKBKM...) — or a grungy, “cool” sort of antihero with values. I’m honestly not that fond of the persona and really pretty tired of it.
Unfortunately, it quickly becomes predictable — as much as I hoped otherwise — that Aslam will be Jasmine’s choice without so much as a thought, though she carries on with Shoaib, accepting his overtures as if she has no earthly idea that he likes her (c’mon, she is a ditz, but not that big of a ditz).
Sonakshi looks gorgeous throughout the movie (please can I steal this wardrobe?), but Jasmine doesn’t have a whole lot to do other than follow the two men around, flirting (unintentionally? I think she's just leading them both on). She is also, as aforementioned, a total ditz. This includes not realizing that Aslam never actually seems to be working or that Shoaib isn’t committing suicide or realizing that that same man who pulled strings to get her an actress’s award BEFORE SHE BECOMES AN ACTRESS is a gangster.
Because, you know, ordinary men can make that happen with a snap of the fingers while they walk around in sunglasses even inside and are rarely seen during daylight hours and never doing common tasks. (Three quarters of the movie, by the way, seems to take place at night.)
Also, well, how many ordinary guys do you know who talk like Shoaib does? In his riddles and such. It’s exactly what you expect of a don, but it really does get exhausting. You can’t deliver a punchline every other line and expect them to retain a punch. When every line is so emphasized, it just sounds ridiculous. (I’m sure the nuance of most of the oneliners is also lost on me, though I did understand things like “aam aadmi” [common man] is like an “aam” [mango].) If I’m going to hear Akki dish out one liners, I want them to be funny, not ego-stroking.
And by the way, if you think, given the trailer and the fact that this is about gangsters, that this whole movie devolves after a mostly forgotten plot into a power struggle over a woman who has very little say in the matter, well, you are exactly right.
Complete with both men freaking out, beating people up and getting shot. Which is somewhat welcome after the film starts sort of dragging in the second half.
And even with all of that, the ending is a non-ending. We know as Jasmine clings to a bleeding Aslam who her choice is — although one is left perplexed by her lack of concern that she just found out ASLAM IS PART OF THE GANGSTA LIFE SHE WAS RUNNING FROM — but we don’t know if anyone has had that great filmi change of heart and will stop being a don or don-in-training. We don’t even know whether he or Shoaib survives!
But of course that’s probably a yes, because they probably want to make a ridiculous Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Teen Bara.
Well, at least the songs are really enjoyable. Really. And even though Imran is certainly not Rishi Kapoor, the rehashing of Tayyab Ali Pyaar Ka Dushman is fun — and it gets stuck in your head. (Haye haye haye!) But Vidya Balan’s cameo in it is so brief you’ll wonder whether you actually saw it at all.