Posts tagged deewar
By Taran Adarsh, July 26, 2010 – 13:29 IST
The fascination with gangster movies has been immense worldwide. On this side of the Atlantic, several gangster films have left giant footprints on the sands of time. Films like DEEWAAR [Yash Chopra], DHARMATMA [Feroz Khan], NAYAKAN [Mani Ratnam], ANGAAR [Shashilal Nair], PARINDA [Vidhu Vinod Chopra], AGNEEPATH [Mukul Anand], SATYA and COMPANY [Ramgopal Varma], VAASTAV [Mahesh Manjrekar], GANGSTER [Anurag Basu], D [Vishram Sawant] and SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA [Apoorva Lakhia] have tremendous recall value to this day.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI recreates an era that so many of us have left behind and for those who arrived on this planet post 80s, I am sure, they must have visited the era through some medium or the other, mainly movies and internet or during their academic careers.
|BY BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is not part of history, but it attempts to portray on celluloid tales that are now considered legendary, that continue to make news to this date. Of course, the disclaimer claims that it bears no resemblance to a particular person, but you can’t help but draw parallels with real-life characters. It could be a coincidence, though!
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is a fascinating story that talks of how the mafia came into force for the first time in Mumbai. A thriller that depicts the crime scenario in Mumbai during the 70s and 80s. The rise to power of two young boys, in different age-groups, who grew up to ‘rule’ the streets of Mumbai.
Since there’s tremendous speculation in the media that ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI chronicles the lives of Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim, the curiosity to watch the film increases manifold. Of course, I am no one to comment if it’s actually based on their lives or merely borrows a few incidents from their lives or is pure fiction, but as a cinematic experience, I couldn’t help getting transported to the bygone era, getting sucked into a world I had no clue of.
Besides the gangster chapter, one enjoys this film also because of its riveting drama and the power play. It could’ve been set anywhere, in the corporate world, in politics, in the film industry. Anywhere. The rise and subsequent fall of the King and the emergence of the Prince as the super power is what makes this film a compelling watch. The icing on the cake is the magical and lilting song compositions that are juxtaposed so beautifully in the goings-on. On the sidelines of the power play, a game of hearts is being played and that’s what makes ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI a wholesome movie experience.
Final word? ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is not to be missed. Set everything aside this coming weekend and watch this one. Strongly recommended!
The film, set primarily in 1970s Mumbai, follows the rise of Sultan Mirza [Ajay Devgn] and the conflict that ensues, when his protégé Shoaib Khan [Emraan Hashmi] challenges his supremacy and usurps power to rule the murky underbelly of Mumbai.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is a power-packed drama that makes you thirst for more. You rewind to an era of romance, smuggling, cabaret and mafia, but director Milan Luthria and writer Rajat Aroraa ensure that there’s no sleaze or bloodshed-n-gore. In fact, there’s hardly any violent sequence in the movie, except for one when Ajay hammers a cop during a naaka-bandi.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is not a biopic, but narrates the story through the eyes of a police officer [Randeep Hooda], who traces the changing face of the Mumbai underworld. The screenplay encompasses several moments that may compel you to draw parallels with real life, but talking strictly from the movie-going point of view, it satiates you completely. In fact, the writing is cohesive, smart and watertight and there’s never a dull moment. Besides, there’s no time to think whether it’s factual or loosely based on someone’s life or a work of fiction.
As I look back and recall the movie, a number of sequences flash across my mind. Note the sequence when Ajay divides the city amongst gangsters… The train sequence at the very start… The introduction of Emraan Hashmi’s character… Randeep Hooda’s landing on a film set and confiscating the equipment… The subsequent sequence, when Randeep is framed for accepting bribe… The romantic moments between Emraan and Prachi in the jewellery shop… Emraan starting his business and the confrontation that ensues between Ajay and Randeep… The showdown between Ajay and Emraan, with Ajay slapping Emraan in full public view… The conclusion to the story is equally novel. It stays in your memory and sets you thinking.
On the flipside, the story begins with Randeep attempting suicide, but the writer should’ve cited the reason that prompted him to take that drastic step. Sure, there’s a mention at the start, but it doesn’t register well. Also, you are keen to know the chain of events that drove Randeep to suicide. Also, the pace slackens in the middle of the second hour, but picks up dramatically when Ajay returns from Delhi and confronts Emraan. Besides, how I wish the film had a shorter, mass appealing Hindi title to attract more eyeballs and a big jump in footfalls [at single screens and smaller centres mainly] for a mass appealing subject like this.
This is director Milan Luthria’s best work to date, no two opinions on that. Recreating the bygone era is tough and the director, the writer and the art director [Nitin Chandrakant Desai] deserve brownie points for giving the film that authentic feel. In fact, the film wears a chic retro look throughout. Even otherwise, Milan’s handling of the subject material is exemplary. This film is sure to catapult him to the top league. Rajat Aroraa’s screenplay is powerful and engaging. The writer marries heavy-duty drama and subtle and delicate emotions beautifully. I would like to make a special note of the dialogue, also penned by Rajat Aroraa, which are simply fantastic. In fact, the dialogue writing is such it elevates even an ordinary sequence to great levels. One rarely comes across such potent dialogue in today’s times.
Pritam’s music is another ace. Injecting songs and that too a terrific soundtrack in a gangster film is tough. He did it in GANGSTER. He does it again in ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI. ‘Pee Loon’, ‘Tum Jo Aaye’ and the remix of APNA DESH track are super compositions, which are also placed appropriately in the plotline. Cinematography [Aseem Mishra] captures the look to perfection. Akiv Ali’s editing is sharp.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is embellished with fantastic performances. Ajay Devgn is splendid as Sultan. The actor had enacted a similar role in COMPANY, but it must be said that his interpretation is so different in ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI. He adds so much depth to the character, which only goes to prove his range and versatility. This is, without a trace of doubt, Ajay’s finest work so far. Emraan Hashmi is brilliant as the power greedy, wildly ambitious rebel. He plays the dark character to perfection. He’s incredible in the penultimate moments of the film in particular. Besides carrying the look to perfection, Emraan is sure to break-free from the lover boy, serial kisser image with this film.
Kangna Ranaut is extremely natural and performs very well. Also, she brings so much of sensuality and glamour to her character [an actress of the 70s]. In fact, Ajay and Kangna make a wonderful on-screen pair. Prachi Desai is a bundle of talent who proves her mettle yet again. She’s proficient in emotional scenes and sizzles in the BOBBY song-sequence. Besides, the chemistry between Emraan and Prachi is exciting. Randeep Hooda is top notch. Even though the film belongs to Ajay and Emraan, Randeep makes his presence felt with a powerful performance. This film should prove to be the turning point in his career.
Avtar Gill [as Home Minister] is good. Naved Aslam [as Patrick, Ajay's trusted lieutenant] is perfect. Mehul Bhojak [as Emraan's friend Javed] is competent. Ravi Khanwilkar [as Vardhan] is satisfactory. Gauhar Khan sizzles in the remix track.
On the whole, ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is an extremely well-made film that lingers in your memory. The realism coupled with stellar direction, power-packed writing, exceptional performances and ear-pleasing tunes are its trump cards. An outstanding cinematic experience!
Is Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai about him or not? Read this life-sketch of the legendary smuggler and check for yourself
For Bollywood scriptwriters who tend to seek inspiration from the underworld, Haji Mastan would be hard to resist. Movies like Deewar and Mukkadar Ka Sikandar were loosely based on the life of this smuggler.
As Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai is all set to release next week – with a disclaimer as directed by court - we put together the stories from the life behind the legend.
Contrary to his eulogised figure in movies, Mastan was no dreaded don or gangster. He had never killed a man or shot a bullet in his entire life. He was merely a smuggler with money and connections. What turned him into our Don Corleone was his penchant for exhibition - of power in Robin Hood style and of luxury in the company of the glamour world.
|Haji Mastan with Sona, a starlet he fancied, financed movies for and later married|
Haji Mastan was born Mastan Haider Mirza on March 1, 1926 in Panaikulam village near Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu.
His father, an impoverished farmer, migrated to Mumbai with Mastan in 1934. They ran a small cycle-repair shop near Crawford Market that barely fed the family.
As Mastan toiled through the day at the shop, Mumbai’s cruel wealth whizzed past him in luxury cars and beamed through the posters of art-deco film theatres. No wonder, he started nursing fantasies of breaking out of his circumstances.
In 1944, Mastan joined the Bombay docks as a porter - a job that turned his life on its head. Unloading cargo that came from Aden, Dubai, Hong Kong and other cities, amiable Mastan, developed good relationships with much of the staff and officers, and most importantly, regular travellers.
Because of heavy taxes on electronic goods, gold and silver, there was room for smuggling. This is where Mastan came in.
Retired ACP Isaque Bagwan, who saw the rise and fall of Haji Mastan, recalls, “People who came back from Haj brought electronic items like transistors and watches. Some of them even brought gold biscuits. Mastan helped them smuggle these items out of the port by hiding them in his clothes, headband or underwear. He was well rewarded.”
Mastan’s adopted son Sunder Shekhar, 54, shares a dramatic story of how his father earned the trust of the hajis and regular travellers. “A man was trying to smuggle gold biscuits with the help of my father.
|In the ’80s, Mastan had formed the Dalit Muslim Suraksha Mahasangh with Dalit leader Jogendra Kawade|
While my father managed to sneak out with the biscuits, the man was caught. After three years of imprisonment, when he came out, my father returned him all the gold. That man never did business with anyone but my father after that.”
The big game, however, started when Mastan came in contact with Daman’s fisherman-turned-smuggler Sukur Narayan Bakhia in the mid ’50s. Both became partners and smuggled gold and electronic items from Dubai and Aden.
By mid ’60s, Mastan had become rich and powerful, thanks to underworld friends like Karim Lala and Varadrajan Mudaliar and politicians who hobnobbed with him because of his influence over Mumbai’s Muslim voters. “Sanjay Gandhi never missed the opportunity to visit daddy, when he came to Mumbai,” says Sunder.
|Mastan with underworld don Karim Lala. Both were good friends|
Mastan was almost out of bounds for the law. However, there was one Customs officer who gave him a tough time. When Mastan could not buy his integrity, he got him transferred.
When the officer was leaving the city in a flight, a gloating Mastan went to the airport, climbed the flight ladder and waved the officer goodbye. “That was the clout and confidence that Mastan had in the ’70s,” says former DGP T Singarvel, who was in Mumbai at that time.
He adds, “Even when he was arrested in 1974, the two officers who arrested him gave him king’s treatment at a night halt in Kolhapur, with Mastan dressed in impeccable whites enjoying bowls of dry fruits. His arrest itself came after then union minister of state for finance sat on a dharna in Delhi.”
Since mid ’60s Baitul Surur, Mastan’s palatial bungalow on Warden Road in South Mumbai also saw a constant stream of stars.
“During ’70s, daddy had excellent relationship with Dharmendra, Firoz Khan, Raj Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar and Dilip Kumar. Salim and Amitabh often visited him while Deewar was in the pipeline,” says Sunder.
|All his life, Mastan lived in a 15×10 feet room on the terrace of his plush bungalow on Warden Road||Mastan when he was young|
Mastan married a starlet called Sona and financed a few films for her. However, neither Sona’s career as an actress nor his as a filmmaker took off. “His films either bombed or never saw the light of day,” says Sunder.
With these indulgences, Mastan was also trying to shake off his past -poverty and infamy. “He wore designer suits, ties and his hair was neatly combed back. He had a Mercedes Benz, plush with TV and radio, and puffed 555 cigarettes. If someone spoke to him in English, he would just keep saying: ‘Yeah, yeah’,” says Sunder.
The 18-month incarceration during Emergency, however, took the wind out of Mastan’s sails. He became increasingly scared of the law. Surrendering to Janata Party leader Jayaprakash Narayan, he quit smuggling. He went on a haj and started prefixing his name with Haji, which means ‘devout Muslim’.
While he held janata darbars in his heydey, in the late ‘70s, he went on a social work overdrive. “He doled out money to the needy or solved their problems through his influence. There used to be a queue in front of the bungalow every day for food,” says Sunder.
|Mastan with his son Sunder and actor Sunil Dutt|
In early ’80s, he made political forays by teaming up with Dalit leader Jogendra Kawade and formed the Dalit Muslim Suraksha Mahasangh, which was as unsuccessful as his films.
Before his death due to cardiac arrest in 1994, Mastan had started spending more and more time with his family, which he had ignored before. “Once he took me to our native place by train. He sat by the window like a child looking at hills and rivulets and animatedly calling our attention,” says daughter Shamshad.
Despite all his efforts, people didn’t accept him either as a filmmaker or as a politician. People liked him as the smuggler who played godfather. Mastan struggled to shake off this image, which Bollywood has since lapped up.
Ajay Devgn’s all-white ensemble in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai is inspired from Amitabh Bachchan’s look in Deewaar
Remember Amitabh Bachchan as the broody Vijay Verma in Deewaar? Those who can’t have enough of Amitabh’s strong and silent personality in the blockbuster are in for a treat albeit with a modern twist.
Though Ajay Devgn is all set to play a character inspired from the 1970s don Haji Mastan in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, fact is that Ajay’s look in the film is strikingly similar to that of Amitabh Bachchan who played the angry young man in Deewaar.
A source said, “Ajay’s look has been inspired from Amitabh’s look in Deewaar. Almost 37 costumes and looks were rejected before the filmmakers finalised the Deewaar look for Ajay.”
Director Milan Luthria said, “Yes, we scrapped many of Ajay’s earlier costumes. We had initially decided to dress him like Amitji in Trishul so all the costumes were either polo necks or blazers and jackets. But I happened to see Deewaar again, I loved Amitji’s all-white look when he goes for his father’s funeral in the film. I realised that the look would work for Ajay as he looks good in white. Ajay wears white throughout the film. It gives him a different identity.”
MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 21, 2009)
The same dilemma has come back to haunt two major filmmakers now. Rumours have it that Sajid Nadiadwala, who is making his next film Anjaana Anjaani with Bollywood’s current heartthrob Ranbir and Priyanka Chopra, was heard telling an insider from the Kareena Kapoor camp that he would have ideally liked to work with Bebo and Ranbir. But, of course, since they are first cousins the pair would get audience rejection.
It is also reported that the Mehtas of Ashtavinayak will go on the floors with their film directed by Imtiaz Ali with Ranbir on April 1, 2010. Once again, this banner that loves Bebo because she is their Jab We Met heroine, wanted her in the lead. However, since they have had to choose between Ranbir and Kareena — both of whom are the current hot favourites — they have chosen to cast Ranbir.
But Bebo is not entirely at a disadvantage. There is a third film corporation that wants to cast her with the light-eyed youngster Imran Khan, who is another Bollywood hottie.