When one of the characters in Sanjay Gupta's Mumbai Saga tells Amartya Rao (John Abraham), "Sabar kar, tera bhi time aayega," the latter slightly grins and replies, "Time toh har kisi ka aata hai, mera daur aayega."
How we wished this was absolutely true, especially in times when theatres need patrons to fill maximum number of seats amid the COVID-19 era! Unfortunately, Mumbai Saga misses a golden opportunity.
What's Yay: If you have a thing for gory violence and massy dialogues then this one might satiate your taste buds.
What's Nay: Erratic writing
Inspired by true events, as claimed by the makers, Mumbai Saga begins with a dreaded gangster Amartya Rao (John Abraham) gunning down a businessman (Samir Soni) in broad daylight. The film rewinds eight years back where we are introduced to his younger days when he earned his livelihood by selling vegetables at the railway station. His younger brother Arjun is the apple of his eye.
When the lad is hospitalized after a spat with one of Gaitonde's (Amole Gupte) henchmen over extortion, Amartya lets his brawn do all the talking and lands up in prison. With the help of a powerful political figure Bhau (Mahesh Manjrekar), Anna (Suniel Shetty in a cameo) and a drug dealer Naari Khan (Gulshan Grover) whom Amartya befriends during his stint in the jail, the latter rises to become one of the most powerful gangsters in the city. "Bandook toh sirf shaunk ke liye rakhta hoon, darane ke liye naam hi kaafi hai," Amartya proudly declares to scare an opponent.
However, his existence gets threatened when the slain businessman's wife (Anjana Sukhani) announces a bounty of Rs 10 crore to whoever slays him, which sets a tough cop, Vijay Savarkar (Emraan Hashmi) in pursuit of Amartya.
Gangster films have always been Sanjay Gupta's forte; be it Kaante or Shootout At Lokhandwala. However this time, the director gets his math wrong in terms of both story and execution. Despite having a star cast including names like John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi, he fails to do justice to their characters by saddling them with underwhelming roles that fail to keep you invested throughout the film's runtime.
On the brighter side, Mumbai Saga has some well-shot action sequences that lends some 'thrill' to the otherwise tepid screenplay. Also, John Abraham-Emraan Hashmi's hand-to-hand combat scene has been picturised well.
When it comes to flexing his muscles, beating goons to pulp and engaging in dialogue-baazi, John Abraham hits the bullseye. However, the man still falters when it comes to emotions on screen. Also, at places, he does remind you of his act from Shootout At Wadala.
Coming to Emraan Hashmi, the actor begins his cop act on a promising note. However, the writing soon loses its steam and he is left dry! Nevertheless, Emraan still manages to pack a punch in the scenes where he shares screen space with John.
Prateik Babbar ends up as a miscast while Kajal Aggarwal barely makes her presence felt in this testosterone-driven vehicle. Mahesh Manjrekar pulls off whatever his role demands. On the other hand, Amole Gupte does go a tad OTT at places. The rest of the cast including Gulshan Grover, Rohit Roy and Shaad Randhawa deliver what's expected of them in a Sanjay Gupta film.
Shikhar Bhatnagar's camera work has nothing novel to offer; but it doesn't harm the final product as well. Bunty Negi's editing seems to be abrupt at places.
The Ganpati song 'Danka Baja' adds some color to the film, but lacks a recall value. Honey Singh's 'Shor Machega' suffers from some weird camera shots and absurd lyrics. The only hummable number 'Lu Gaye' fails to make it to the final cut of the film as the makers had released the romantic ballad as a single. Interestingly, the song is a prequel to Emraan's cop character Vijay Savarkar and his unrequited love story which spurs him to start his mission to end crimes.
In one of the scenes, while shooting a person, John Abraham's character Amartya Rao haughtily tells him, "Teri gaadi bulletproof hai, tu nahi." Thankfully, the audience has a choice of dodging this bullet of disappointment!
We give 2.5 stars out of 5 to John Abraham-Emraan Hashmi starrer Mumbai Saga.