Monday, August 16, 2010

Once upon a time, Mumbai had a verbal diarrhea: The last to review

"Jo apni maa ki izzat nahi karte, unka baap banke mein aata hoon" -
Just when Sultan Mirza speaks these amazing pulp lines, on the screen the credit comes: written by rajat arora. Now, was it deliberate or was it just an accident? lets leave it to that. But having said that, Once upon a time in Mumbai has so many such pulp lines that you start wondering "dude, everyone's poet in the movie". Something that the phenomenal Kanti Shah and his writer Bashir-ji can do even in their sleep. Now coming back to the topic: Once upon a time in Mumbai isn't a Gunda, no it can never be - but it is a movie that I so loved watching it, mind you, i didnt like it esp the later half, but i enjoyed it.

In the world of multiplex movies, here is one movie that you would want to watch in a single screen with its amazing ambience, seeti-maaroing masses and something that the whole India loved to do before the dreaded multiplexes came. And when a dialogue like "har kitab ki kismat main library nahin hoti, kuch kabadi ki dukan main milti hain", comes, you know what you are in for -its like Ajay Devgan trying to get his 'Dilwale, Diljale', 'Jigar' fan-base back in his kitty. But leave those inhibitions because the movie "Once upon a time" is a super entertainer at least when Ajay Devgan is there on the screen.

The best part about the movie according to me is that it tries to be as politically clean as it can be. Take for example a ridiculous popular film like Wanted, it was shot so badly, it had all its politics wrong esp the way women characters were shot, as if the audience is dying to see how the character of mahesh manjrekar looks at a woman's bust. Outrageous Prabhudeva, I am so sorry, you are a loser! Here's hoping that Dabanng entertains and doesnt get into other territories. That brings me to the camera of "Once upon a time". The movie is very well-shot, watch the sea shots in opening sequence (of course they were digitally worked upon), but wow they do give an idea of how entertaining the half-biography of Sultan Mirza would be.

While sitting in the theatre and listening to lines like "Jinki manzil ek hai woh raaste par hi milte hai" - I simply loved it. Yess!! don't you know the other India always talks in idioms and phrases. The simple ones. Get into a railway compartment and strike a conversation with the uncle sitting opposite and in a while he will speak in idioms, "beta sab oogte sooraj ko salaam karte hain", and "beta aam tabhi girta hai, jab woh poori tarah se pakk jaaye". Now havent you heard that so many times, thus if these kinda lines come on screen and a star delivers it the way it is meant to, then you have a winner in your hands, undoubtedly!

And by the way, these are dialogues that very few, take my word: very few writers can write like this. Its an amazing flourish on the paper: take some more punchlines:
"bus, dua mei yaad rakhna"

- "Barf ki tarah thanda rehne ka bhi kya fayda sahab… Thodhi der akde, phir pighal gaye?"

- "Kya Khan, athaarah saal mein kabhi tune prasad nahin khaya, aur aaj bhagwan badal liya"?

- "Tasveer kheench ke apni dukaan mein laga le, Shoaib, Kabhi zaroorat padhe, to donon mein se ek bhagwan chun lena"

- "Vardhan main un cheezon ki smuggling karta hoon jiski ijaazat sarkar nahin deti…unki nahin jiski ijaazat mera zameer nahin deta".

(the last one had audience clapping on it! Someone shouted paisa vasool)

Rajat Arora is a genius. We knew it post-Bluffmaster:

Sample these lines that Nana Patekar speaks:

- "line achchi boli hai tunne, likh leta hoon, kaam aayegi kabhi"

- "2 crore rupiye chahiye, Kis Liye? Picture Bahot Acchi Chal Rahi Hai..Parade Pe Fekne Hai".

- "Goli sirf wahi chalate hai jo apna dimaag nai chalate"

Waah Rajat-ji, I am a fan for sure!

The point is that "Once upon a time" is an amazing popular movie that takes me back to my world of late 80s yes 80s and not 70s. The time when I used to hover around video cassette parlours and choose titles to watch - the pomp and galore of Tridev, the three-hero multi-star sagas, the dialogue baazi of Shaheshah (remember the famous line from Shahenshah. "Jab bhi mei kisi hassen ladki ko dekhta hun, toh mere andar ka kutta jaag jaata hai, aur tab mei Black Dog peeta hoon' courtesy: Kadar Khan)

But my only complain is that a little bit of restrain in the dialogue-baazi was required esp for actors/characters who cannot carry the dialogues with them. The police commissioner character was a serious case of verbal diarrhea. Like Ajay Devgan knows how to deliver the written lines but some actors cant pull it like him.

The music is pretty neat. esp the sufi-inspired stuff, but hello did they credit Guy Ritchie's Rock N Rolla or Black Storbe for lifting the "I'm a man" soundtrack. coz that sound goes good with Sultan Mirza too. By the way there was a random song called 'Baburao' - a perfect misfit. As in just when you were enjoying the soundtrack with some harmonium, some tabla and somethign melodious, out comes Mika with his 'Babaurao mast hai..' aaargh!! Its as if the Ekta Kapoor brigade pulled out an unused song from Shootout at Lokhandwala.

By the way what went wrong with the sound of the film. It was so bad. A movie that heavily depends on the dialogues and taali-maaro lines, has to at least have a clean sound, thats the least someone would expect, anyways those are complaints that a cinema fan like me will always have, if only they would care for sound as much as they spent on camera and creating digital images.

But if there are people like me who were brought up on regular 80s hindi movie masala, then this is the movie you should go for. By the way, my favourite dialogue in the movie and I was right there when Emran Hashmi speaks it:

"Supaari li hai, toh chuna nahi lagaunga...."

yeah boss!! style hai!!

On second thoughts how would someone enjoy these movies with subtitles? You dare not watch it! There is always a festival movie for you!

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta


shamin said...

Incredible sense of observation which reflects in your humour as well.... a well picked subject of discussion Hardik, Still to figure out how on earth you remember the different dialogues from all the films... totally agree on Baburao being a misfit.... would also agree the same about kangna... though Ajay devgan's earned a new found respect in my eyes after playing this role.... kudos to your wit... was a fun read

prakash gowda said...

Well written review buddy. But it is also self-contradictory. When the review begins, you seem to despise the idea of so much dialogue-baazi, midway through, you switch over and praise the dialogues, justifying that an old man in a train compartment too talks in idioms. If you notice the films of the yore, especially late 70s and early 80s (let's wipe out late 80s and early 90s from the Indian film industry's history and call it the dark age) - you'd notice that it's the dialogue-baazi that makes the film stand out. Take Sholay (loha lohe ko kaat ta hai) Shakti, Trishul, Zanjeer (jab tak baithne ko na kaha jaaye sharaafat se khade raho, yeh police station hai tumhaare baap ka ghar nahin), Amar Akbar Anthony, to Agneepath (sorry for citing example of only bachchan films - for me 70s means Big B). So if you notice, the lines and dialogue baazis were almost the protagonist or rather the most strong weapon of the hero. Similarly, while re-creating the 70s, the filmmaker must have adhered to this theorem of dialogue-baazi that made 70s what it was. This is precisely what makes Once Upon a time in Mumbai a total paisa wasool film. Keep up the good work of reviewing.

Anonymous said...

Dude.. I watched the movie, yet couldnt find your name in the ending credits.. was it intentional or thats how Bollywood treats the script supervisor.... Seriously dude.. you did a great job....


hardik mehta said...

@prakash - thats what it is with these kinda movies na - you love them and you dislike them too -but you cant do without them, thus the write-up bashing the 'too-many' dialogues yet some of them were enjoyable...

@bhargav - had left the film in middle, and so did my 2 senior colleagues - so we all remain uncredited - but no issues about that - its a producer's prerogative...

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