Mumbai’s ‘soggy’ Saga: A lot of noise and bloodshed signifying nothing!

How much fun can you juice out of a script that’s soaked in blood?

Mumbai’s ‘soggy’ Saga: A lot of noise and bloodshed signifying nothing!
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Subhash K Jha

Enough!  Bhai  log, ek vinati hai. Ab bass ho gaya. We’ve seen enough of your blood-soaked lifestyle. The sanguinary  Saga has become soggy. We don’t want to know your brutal delusions about ruling Mumbai. In Mumbai Saga John Abraham plays Amartya Rao. He might as well be Maya  Surve  from Shootout  In Wadala: exactly the same get-up  and that steady frozen scowl which says  more than  any words  can, about  the legitimization  of  outlawry.

Curiously  Amartya  is never seen alone, not even in a passing shot. He is  always in a crowd,  perpetually caught in a surly  mood. Which is  understandable. Chopping off hands  and ears for  a living cannot be easy. In one specially brutal sequence, Amartya  is  shown coolly cutting off  his arch-enemy’s  henchman’s ear. The  agonized  man, now permanently kaan ka kachcha  , starts spilling  all  the  beans  about his  boss.

“I hate squealers. Thrash him so much, he won’t regain consciousness for  three days,” Amartya orders  his obedient men. This is meant to be a sample of the film’s savagely  humorous mood where men  look  like they could do with a proper water  bath instead  of  the perennial blood bath. But who’s listening?

Mumbai Saga is a  very noisy film. Amar Mohile’s background score is like a drilling machine  at  a rave  party. The soundtrack is cluttered with  sounds  of violence, destruction, pain and  revenge.   But look closely.  There is  nothing here in the avalanche  of anarchic brutality  that we  haven’t seen before. Nothing shocks any more. We know this world. We are done with it. Unfortunately  Sanjay Gupta  is  not. He keeps returning to  it, like  a bad dream which must be  decoded before being put to sleep.

In the  process we are subjected to a stoic John Abraham  straddling  across the screen  with his his loyal  sidekicks played by Rohit Roy, Shaad Randhawa and a few other  brawny points hoping to be noticed in the maelstrom  of machismo. John, for  all his brawn, fails to hold  our attention for too long.

Luckily no  shot lasts  for  more than fifteen  seconds.  For this  we must be  thankful to  editor Bunty Negi. He  knows, time is  the  essence.  In  no time at all, John’s Amartya  goes from  passive  violent to  aggressively  brutal. His  face soften only when his  kid brother Pratik Babbar  shows  up  to  get his hair tousled. Pratik is annoying as only he  can be. My happiest  moment in this  slog-fest  was when Pratik is bundled  off to vilaayat for further studies.

Mahesh Manjrekar, a fine actor seen recently giving a  magnificently modulated  performance in The White Tiger, plays  the most interesting character. He is Bhau, who  runs  an extra-constitutional government from his palatial  abode. Get it?  No? He controls  both the crime lords and the law enforcers and  pitches them against one  another. Still don’t get it? All right,  for the duh breed, Gupta  teases  in a scene where Manjrekar’s Bhau is seen  sketching  on a pad while discussing the next  bloodbath in  Mumbai.And by the way  this Bhau goes on stage  and tells the public why Bombay must be renamed Mumbai. We hear  you.

The wide-angled references to Maharashtra politics only accentuates the film’s sexist slant. There are only two female characters  in this film teeming with masculine impunity. Kajal Aggarwal has nothing to do except hang on to  every word that John Abraham speaks. And he  doesn’t speak much. Anjana Sukhani playing a  builder (Samir Soni)’s widow (serves Soni  right for being dead  he kills off his own Dad the brilliant  Akash Khurana after  one  sequence) has the best line in this  verbally-flush film.

“The word  for  both yesterday and tomorrow is Kal. It’s up to which Kal  you want to lie in.”

Emraan Hashmi shows  up midway  wearing a Khaki uniform which seems to accentuate his  boyishness rather than his bravado.  Hashmi is  hopelessly miscast. He does try to  have fun with the role. But how  much fun can you juice out of a script that’s soaked in blood?

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