Director: Sanjay Gupta
Occupation: John Abraham, Emraan Hashmi, Kajal Aggarwal, Prateik Babbar, Mahesh Manjrekar and Amole Gupte
Released in theaters.
Filmmaker Sanjay Gupta’s filmography shows mainly gangster films. Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007), which Gupta co-wrote and co-produced, remains the best film to come from his vision. Gupta is a genre filmmaker and most of his films are inspired by other films and / or adapted from books. Would have loved to see how he redefined the genre in his latest film, Mumbai Saga. But the multi-star looks more fictional than organic. It lacks the thrill of Shootout At Lokhandwala, for example, or the booty of Kaante (2002 film, inspired by Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs).
In Mumbai Saga, Gupta uses ready-made and dusty camera angles (DOP Shikhar Bhatnagar) and a hackneyed background score (Amar Mohile) to tell a story that is based on true events and does not attract your attention. There is substance, but the film has nothing new to offer.
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Mumbai Saga tells the story of Amartya Rao (John Abraham), a simple gangster. In one scene, Amartya does not want to get involved with the idiots who loot the vegetable sellers because of “Hafta”. After his brother was attacked by one of the thugs (a few scenes later), he chops the thug’s fist. Still okay since it’s a movie. Amartya wants to protect his younger brother Arjun (Prateik Babbar) from bloodshed. So he sends him to London for further studies. They assume these sacrifices are told by Amartya later in the film, and they are.
Amartya’s girlfriend, who later becomes his wife Seema, surprisingly agrees to him becoming a gangster. An annoyingly happy Kajal Aggarwal complains as Seema. Amartya is taken under his wing by Bhau (Mahesh Manjrekar), a character modeled after a popular political leader of the time. probably of all things. Bhau controls everyone – the gangsters and the police. And he puts two of his extravagant boys – Amartya and Vijay Savarkar (Emraan Hashmi) – against each other. There are some finely tuned dialogue baazi, but a flawed script couldn’t save this saga.
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None of the actors impressed. John Abraham strives to become a brooding gangster, but his limits as an actor emerge when he needs to step up his performance, not just his voice. Prateik Babbar, an otherwise reasonably good actor, is wasted in Arjun’s role. Mahesh Manjrekar and Amole Gupte give their characters their sincere best, but we’ve seen them make versions of these characters before. For some reason there is a Gaitonde in Hindi films in all Mumbai crime circles. Emraan Hashmi’s policeman has no layer or depth either. Shaad Randhawa and Rohit Roy play the regulars as gang members. Gulshan Grover plays a ridiculous cartoon of Nari Khan. Suniel Shetty is attributed a special appearance, but his lonely scene is not noticed.
The plot of the film shows a spark, in particular the fight between Abraham and Hashmi in the toilet of a nightclub. This great action scene will make you forget about the forced and completely irrelevant Yo Yo Honey Singh track beforehand.
Watch the Mumbai Saga trailer here:
To give the credit where it is due; I have to applaud the efforts of the producers to get the film out in theaters if most are going down the secured OTT route. Mumbai Saga was partially shot during the Covid-19 pandemic and patchwork shows. Could have missed this factor, but there is nothing else to see. Expect a movie that lives up to its grand title Mumbai Saga. Disappointed. Wear a mask when you’re ready to see the movie in the cinema.