Mumbai’s Soggy Saga- Phir Wohi Khoon Kharaba

There is nothing in this noisy avalanche of brutality that we haven’t seen before. John, for all his brawn, fails to hold our attention for too long. Emraan Hashmi is hopelessly miscast

Mumbai’s Soggy Saga- Phir Wohi Khoon Kharaba

Subhash K Jha

Film: Mumbai Saga
Starring: John Abraham, Emraan Hashmi
Directed by: Sanjay Gupta
Rating: * ½ (One and a half star)

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 Manya Surve from Shootout At 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 especially brutal sequence, Amartya is shown coolly cutting off his arch enemy’s henchman’s ear (ear today, gone tomorrow, I guess). The agonized man, now permanently kaan ka kachcha, starts spilling all the beans about his boss.

“I hate squealers. Thrash him so much he doesn’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 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 softens 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 vilayat 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 junta 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’s (Samir Soni) 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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