Mumbai Saga movie review: John Abraham, Emraan Hashmi film is a jaded re-retread of familiar ground

Mumbai Saga movie review: In Sanjay Gupta’s better films, the bad guys used to be more interesting, the action used to be classy. This John Abraham-Emraan Hashmi film, however, feels jaded.

Mumbai Saga cast: John Abraham, Emraan Hashmi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Prateik Babbar, Rohit Roy, Kajal Aggarwal, Suniel Shetty, Samir Soni, Shaad Randhawa, Gulshan Grover, Anjana Sukhani
Mumbai Saga director: Sanjay Gupta
Mumbai Saga rating: 1.5 stars

A whole year after the lockdown, I was all set to enjoy a full-on masala film — bad guys, bursting machismo, bristling guns, and rhyming dialogues. But Sanjay Gupta’s Mumbai Saga is yet another jaded re-retread of familiar ground.

We’ve lost count of the actioners filled with Mumbai bhaus and bhais, loudly declaring their allegiance to the Supremo and his Sena, wading into conflicts between old-time mill owners and new property sharks, and the growth of the mob, parcelling out the city between them. The only way to justify another iteration is to infuse it with freshness. What’s that?

Amartya Rao (John Abraham) is thrown off the straight and narrow, only to embrace the bad life. Mentors and rivals surround him. There’s the jovial Gaitonde (Amol Gupte) who controls his gang from inside a jail cell. There’s the powerful Bhau (Mahesh Manjrekar) who resembles the real life Bala Saheb in the looks department. Just in case we didn’t get it, he’s shown sketching cartoon figures. Geddit now? There’s the ‘Harvard-returned’ son (Samir Soni) of a mill-owner, who has an eye on big money. And there are Amartya’s faithful lieutenants (Rohit Roy and Shaad Randhawa), one number old-time hood (Gulshan Grover), loyal wife (Kajal Aggarwal), chota bhai (Prateik Babbar) who is forced to grow up ‘shareef’ but has a yen for the wild side.

When a smart-mouthed encounter specialist (Emraan Hashmi) shows up, things start to unravel, and we know where all of this is headed. In Gupta’s better films, the bad guys used to be more interesting, the action used to be classy, and there’s been no one better than him to organise that classic money shot — a row of sharp guys in black, walking slo mo towards us. I can watch Kaante again just for that one scene.

Except for Gupte, who is clearly enjoying himself, reminding one of similar roles he has played before, there really is no one who is self-aware enough to carry off this saga. Grover and Shetty, so much at home in this kind of film, come and go too soon. Abraham, red tilak firmly on forehead, stalks impassively through the film; the rest, despite themselves, are just eye glaze. Even the lines don’t help. Sample this, from Amartya to a baddie: ‘Yeh lakshman rekha Sita ne paar kari toh Ramayan, aur tumne toh Mahabharat’. The baddie cowers and runs. So should have we.

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