The one thing that remains constant in the film is the power packed, absolutely marvelous, well thought, poetic dialogues. The heavy dialogue-baazi most reflects the deadly decade of the 1970s. They are one of the biggest strengths of this film. They pack a punch and make the audience sympathise with or abhor the characters delivering them. And that’s why the real hero of this film is the writing. Rajat Arora's dialogues flow from the storytelling in a smooth flow of poetry and street wisdom. A potential contender for the Best Dialogue Award!
However, the screenplay (Rajat Arora) takes into view the entire gamut of grime in the canvas of crime that cannot be hidden by the surface glamour and glitter. You will realize that the treatment in Rajat Arora’s screenplay and Milan Luthria’s direction has its individualistic approach and any analogy between the two gangsters films are ruled out. Arora’s screenplay moves at a brisk pace to establish the upsurge of Sultaan, introduce the overambitious Shoaib, ascertain the faith of former in latter and concludes with Shoaib’s arrogance taking over. The scenes are short in length, several in number and packed with pulsating drama.
Milan Luthria rises only partially to it: he starts off well, and carries on as he means to, but then falls into the trap of the familiar. The second half gets lost in patchy writing and the creakily done conflict of the principled mob boss vs. the unscrupulous rebel. Everyone talks and talks in aphorisms and the dialogue which makes you smile with pleasure when you first hear it turns tiresome. The director totally loses track of the film here, not that he was on it when he wasted almost an hour in showing us a love story but we were still ok with it. After about the first hour, hour and half, the filmmaker’s desperation to pick up the central theme he forgot about seems apparent. But in this desperation, he ends up giving us a patchwork of half baked scenes and characters. The romance vanishes and a poorly treated and conceived underworld story begins. The end however seems somewhat abrupt. Also Emraan Hashmi’s tacky item track (Baburao Mast Hai ) in the second half was absolutely unnecessary. Some bits in the second-half get shaky, such as the predicable club songs and the repeated use of overlapping editing patterns to convey the rising tension between the mentor and the protégé turned tormenter. It’s well begun but not done, just like the film. But overall the director's command over the language of outlawry is unquestionable.
But also Director Milan Luthria recreates the underworld of 70s in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai with as much glamour and flamboyance as Farah Khan recreated the cine-world of 70s in the retroactive Om Shanti Om. There’s smuggling, cabaret, a Robin Hood don, vintage Mercedes cars, the quintessential Bollywood backdrop, R D Burman overtones in music, dramatic dialogue- baazi and substantial style. Milan Luthria and his team manage to capture the period and ambience of the 1970s rather well, lending the familiar underworld story a grand, cinematic touch. He might have upgraded the technique of filmmaking but his film radiates the same attitude of the retro era.
Good job Milan, we wish to see you more!
3.5 / 5