Bollywood Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara

Rashmi Daryanani
Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara
Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara

Shoaib (Akshay Kumar) is a gangster who has Bombay in the palm of his hand, even while he spends most of his time in Oman. One incident in particular, however, forces him to return to the city in order to track down his enemy, Rawal (Mahesh Manjrekar). While in Bombay, Shoaib bumps into upcoming actress Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha), and slowly becomes obsessed with her. Unfortunately, though, one of his most trustworthy men, Aslam (Imran Khan), ends up falling in love with the same girl.

The first film went on to become a hit at the box office, but does this sequel deliver?

Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobara
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobara

I went into the cinema with rather low expectations, as I’m generally quite skeptical about Bollywood’s fascination with sequels and the apparent need to keep milking a successful film for all its worth. I quite enjoyed the original film – it may have been no masterpiece, but it was an ode to 70s Bollywood and all that action and dialoguebaazi made it some delicious fun.

Where OUATIMD falters is by failing to recreate those two successful elements from the first film. This time around, the action is replaced with a love triangle, and the hard-hitting dialoguebaazi replaced with OTT, cheesy lines. While the gangster backdrop is interesting, the love triangle itself remains inherently formulaic: two guys fall for the same girl, one feels like he owes the other and is willing to sacrifice his love, the girl loves one of the two but is still caught up in the whole web, etc etc. You know who’s going to get the girl in the end and you also have a fair idea of how it’s all going to go down, so there’s not much of that thrill in there that you’d otherwise get from watching a gangster film. In fact, the film’s other storyline, involving Shoaib’s enemy (Rawal) trying to find and kill him, is much more interesting. However, since there’s a love story to explore, Rawal’s character is barely developed as an antagonist, and as a result Mahesh Manjrekar finds himself utterly wasted in this film.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara
Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara

Then there are the dialogues. Some of them, I’ll admit, are a guilty pleasure. Quite a few of them are entertaining and sometimes you can’t wait to hear what Shoaib will spout off next. But they are, in essence, very gimmicky – they’re like cheesy lines from a book that stick out like a sore thumb in the context of actual conversation. What cements it is how Akshay Kumar plays Shoaib – a hyper-stylized villain who wears sunglasses at night, is permanently surrounded in a cloud of cigarette smoke, and who resorts to stunts such as rapping chair legs against the floor to announce his presence. Again, though, that’s not to say that the dialogues aren’t noteworthy – they are, but perhaps not in the intended way: it’s just hard to take them seriously when the character delivering them seems more like a caricature than anything else.

As for Imran and Sonakshi, they’re a mixed bag. This may be odd, but I thought Imran’s best performance in the film was for the song Tayyab Ali. He kills it with his moves and expressions, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was decent for the rest of the film, although he did feel out of his element at times. Sonakshi also does fairly well, but I am still hoping and praying that she distances herself from this masala genre because I think she has the ability to go above and beyond with different roles. Still, the improvement is noticeable.


Avoidable, unless you’re an Akshay Kumar fan – or one of masala films in general.

With inputs from Amruta Khatavkar.

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