Movie Review: Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara! (2013)

Once_Upon_ay_Time_in_Mumbai_Dobaara!2 Stars (out of 4)

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2010’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai raised interesting questions about the necessity of violence in organized crime and the role police have in protecting civilians. Its sequel, Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara!, revisits the same characters and locations, but ignores moral quandaries in favor of glitzy romance. The sequel doesn’t live up to the quality of the original.

Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara! (OUATIMD, henceforth) picks up twelve years into the reign of the sadistic Mumbai don, Shoaib (Akshay Kumar). He falls in love with a naive, aspiring actress named Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha), whose innocence softens the don’s heart. At the same time, Jasmine strikes up a romance with Shoaib’s loyal underling, Aslam (Imran Khan), who tells her he works as a tailor. Neither man knows that they love the same woman, but when possessive Shoaib discovers the truth, boy, is he angry.

The casting in OUATIMD presents a problem from the outset. In the original film, Shoaib is played by Emraan Hashmi, an expert at depicting volatile, unsavory characters. Kumar makes his money these days playing comic goofballs and fails to make Shoaib as menacing as he needs to be. I agree with critic Mihir Fadnavis, who states in his review of OUATIMD that Kumar “sounds like a drunk Yogi Bear.”

Kumar’s not solely at fault for failing to make Shoaib appropriately villainous. Director Milan Luthria and writer Rajat Arora assume that audience members vividly recall the first movie and will apply that foreknowledge to Shoaib 2.0. But the character presented in OUATIMD is a smug, lovesick dope for the majority of the movie. His table-flipping freak-out when Jasmine informs him that she finds him strictly Friend Zone material seems out of character, unless one recalls the ruthless Shoaib from the first movie.

Requisite familiarity with the first film comes up in another odd way in OUATIMD. Shoaib’s girlfriend in the first movie is a woman named Mumtaz. Her character returns in the second as Shoaib’s kept woman, living in a luxurious apartment, but never allowed outside by the jealous don. Her presence is awkward and unnecessary, although she does give a touching speech near the end of the film about personal freedom and the fact that true love can’t be bought.

Jasmine echoes the same sentiments as Mumtaz, and Sinha does a nice job portraying a woman’s fear in the face of a man’s relentless romantic pursuit. In fact, the final half-hour of the film is really entertaining. Unfortunately, it comes about an hour later than it should have, given the amount of romantic fluff that could’ve been excised without damaging the story.

Imran Khan’s performance grew on me through the course of the film, but I’m still not sure that he was the right actor to play Aslam. He just seems too nice to play a street-hardened thief. Khan may have seemed more natural in the role had the makeup and wardrobe departments not turned him into a cartoon character. It’s hard to look beyond Aslam’s mesh tank tops, fake sideburns, feathered hair, and guyliner to appreciate the character beneath.

With a little editing and more appropriate casting, OUATIMD could’ve been pretty good. As it stands, the sequel’s shortcomings serve to reinforce what a superior movie Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai is.


13 thoughts on “Movie Review: Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara! (2013)

  1. Shah Shahid

    Huh. So it is meant to be a direct sequel to the original? Everything about this movie looked and felt like it was one of those ‘franchises sequels’ with no connection to the first, other than the name.

    Why didn’t Hashmi return to the role?!

    1. Kathy

      I know, right? In tone, it didn’t feel like a proper sequel, either. According to Wikipedia (for what it’s worth), Milan Luthria wanted an older actor to play a twelve-years-older Shoaib and decided against bringing back Emraan. Emraan’s not old by any means, but at 34, he’s not a spring chicken. Toss some grey highlights into his luxurious mane, and he could easily pass for 45 (Akshay’s current age). It was a silly casting mistake that really hurt the movie. Here’s the Wikipedia link:!#Casting

      1. Shah Shahid

        That sounds like a ploy to use a ‘star’ over the hit and miss Emraan. Because… yea it sounds dumb.

        Sad, considering I would’ve loved to see what Emraan could’ve done in that role.

        I think the only ambigious sequel/franchise movie was RGV’s “D” (Randeep Hooda’s debut into Bollywood) which for all intents and purposes seemed like a prequel of “COMPANY”, with Hooda playing a younger version of Devgan’s character. But it’s never clearly mentioned. Another example of RGV’s genius! (Shut up)

  2. ashokbhatia

    Most sequels prove to be damp squibs. Consider ‘Umrao Jaan’, ‘Sholay’, ‘Himmatwala’ etc. Apparently, there have been only two successes so far – the ‘Munna Bhai’ ones and the ‘ gaya’ ones!

  3. Bhavika

    Emraan should have just been in this film. Shoaib is a perfect character for him and he clearly is good with franchises/sequels (whatever this is) because of his past successes. Even the songs in this film were disappointing. One of the songs with Imran Khan’s character looked like a joke. This didnt even feel like it was worth a watch like the other one was. What a shame.

    1. Kathy

      Bhavika, it was really hard to take anything Imran did seriously with those fake sideburns glued to his face. 😉

      1. Bhavika

        Hahahahaha I’m not surprised. The moment I saw the trailer; I just knew he wasn’t right! Could’ve just done us all a favour and not have made this film. I bet those who haven’t watched the first film but have watched the second one now have the wrong impression of what the first one is like. When the first one is actually one of my favourite films.

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