The Mumbai underworld has been a fascinating and intriguing chapter in the history of Maximum City. Sanjay Gupta has already made two films in this area – Shootout at Lokhandwala [2007; as producer and writer] and Shootout at Wadala [2013; as director, producer and writer]. And now he is back with Mumbai Saga. In this, Emraan Hashmi and John Abraham are seen together for the first time. Both have a strong presence among the masses and hence, the film has created excitement for the audience and even the exhibitors. So does Mumbai Saga give viewers an entertaining time? Or does it fail? Let’s analyze.
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Mumbai Saga is the story of a gangster and his rivalry with a cop. In his mid-80s, Amartya Rao (John Abraham) lives with his family, which includes his father (Rajendra Gupta), brother Arjun (Harsh Sharma) and wife Seema (Kajal Aggarwal). His family sells vegetables on the streets and is upset about paying ‘Week’ (bribery) to the goons of Gaitonde (Amol Gupte). One day, Arjun argues with a goon who then throws Arjun off the bridge. Amartya saves Arjuna before he is crushed under the train. Amartya had decided not to get involved with the gangsters till now. However, he kills Arjuna and the attack on him angers him. He single-handedly attacks Gaitonde’s men and also cuts off the hand of a goon. Gaitonde, who operates from the jail, tells the police to arrest Amartya. Furthermore, he puts Amartya in the same prison he was in. Gaitonde’s henchmen attack Amartya in jail. Once again, Amartya single-handedly defeated them. Gaitonde now learns that Amartya is very dangerous. The next day, Amartya is released on bail. This is made possible by Mumbai’s unofficial Raja Bhau (Mahesh Manjrekar). Bhau offers Amartya to work for him and find a solution to Gaitonde and his menace. In no time, Amartya learns the tricks of the trade. He also annexes Gaitonde’s area between Dadar and Byculla. Gaitonde has no choice but to give up. The story then moves forward 12 years. Arjun (Pratik Babbar) has grown up now and Amartya sends him to the UK to save him. Meanwhile, Sunil Khaitan (Sameer Soni) is an industrialist who owns a mill built by his ancestors. He wants to fire all the mill workers, demolish the mill and sell the land at an astronomical price. He takes Gaitonde’s help to evict the mill owners. Bhau asks Amartya to stop the construction of Khaitan Mill so that he can get votes of mill workers. Amartya meets Sunil and warns him of dire consequences. Sunil complains to Gaitonde about Amartya’s behavior. In retaliation, Gaitonde tries to kill Arjun while he is in Mumbai on a short trip. Arjun narrowly escaped. An enraged Amartya kills Sunil Khaitan in broad daylight. His widow, Sonali (Anjana Sukhani), goes to the police headquarters and announces that she will offer a reward of Rs. 10 crores to the policeman who killed Amartya. Vijay Savarkar (Emraan Hashmi) takes an interest in the offer and decides that he will kill Amartya, no matter what. What happens next becomes the rest of the film.
Sanjay Gupta’s story is interesting and full of adventure and even twists and turns. The film is inspired by true events. Also, it is based on people that many people might not know about. Robin Bhatt and Sanjay Gupta’s screenplay is impressive. The writers try their best to ensure that the focus remains on the main plot and the audience does not get bored even for a second. Therefore, the film moves at supersonic speed. Some of the moments in the film are extraordinary and very well thought out. Sanjay Gupta’s dialogues (additional dialogues by Vaibhav Vishal) enhance the mass appeal of the film. Some one-liners are sure to bring applause in theatres.
Sanjay Gupta’s direction is apt. He presents the story in a very dramatic and entertaining manner and tries his best to fulfill the minimum denominator. As a result, he encapsulates the narrative with massive moments in abundance. The characters of Amartya and Savarkar are particularly strong and are well carved. On the other hand, some characters do not get proper screen time. Sanjay Gupta should have made the second half, especially the climax sharp. Length is also a problem in the second half.
The Mumbai saga begins on a grand note reflecting the politician-gangster nexus in Mumbai a few decades back. The film wastes no time as it soon comes down to why Amartya became a don. The scene where Amartya attacks Gaitonde’s men on the railway bridge begins unexpectedly and is sure to be loved by the masses. The second action scene in the jail takes the fun further. Amartya’s rise seems too swift but thankfully a lot is happening to keep the interest in the film. The murder of Sunil Khaitan is the high point. The intermission comes at a spectacular juncture. Post-interval, the cat and mouse chase between Amartya and Savarkar keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, as well as a sudden twist in the story in the pre-climax. The climax, although it could have been better, is worth watching.
John Abraham is in excellent form. He looks a dreaded gangster every inch and he is brilliant in the action sequences. At several places, he briefly shows off his dim smile and this adds to the charisma of his character. Emraan Hashmi’s entry was late and this might make his fans unhappy. But the moment he enters the narrative, he is shaken. Not just with the action, he steals the show with his one-liners too. His dialogue on police uniform will create panic in theatres. Mahesh Manjrekar is very good as a shrewd politician. Amol Gupte is brilliant. Prateik Babbar looks a bit off but manages to leave his mark. Kajal Aggarwal and Anjana Sukhani get limited scope. The same goes for Tithi Raj (Neelam; Arjuna’s wife). Gulshan Grover (Nari Khan) looks stylish and decent. Rohit Bose Roy (Baba) is fine as Amartya’s right hand. But his motive in the second half seems a bit disjointed. Sameer Soni, Shaad Randhawa (Jagannath), Vivaan Parashar (Sadashiv) and Harsh Sharma are fine. Suniel Shetty (Saada Anna) is fine in a special appearance. He looks very stylish.
The scope of music in this type of film is limited. Thankfully there are only 2 songs in the film. ‘Danka Baja’ Foot tapping. ‘Shor Machega’ Shot well but feels out of place in a period film. Amar Mohile’s background score is dramatic and thrilling.
Shikhar Bhatnagar’s cinematography is without complaints. The production design by Priya Suhas and Sunil Nigwekar and the costumes by Nahid Shah are authentic. Anbarev’s action is one of the high points of the film. Nube Cirrus’s VFX is good in some places. In the second half, the editing of Bunty Nagi could have been better.
Overall, Mumbai Saga is a film that must be experienced on the big screen. It is embellished with group moments, clapping dialogues, sudden twists and tons of style. At the box office, it will get patronage in theaters and smiles will be back on the faces of distributors and exhibitors.