Seen through the eyes of an honest cop (Randeep Hooda), Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai is the story of the split between Dawood Ibrahim and Haji Mastan. OUATIM starts off by introducing Ajay Devgn as the gangster who steals from the rich and distributes among the poor, and much time is spent establishing that by showing Sultan Mirza (Ajay Devgn) giving money around and being kind to the needy; he’s been moulded this way because of his rise from extreme poverty to great wealth, and is loved by all. He then decides to pursue his own interests and is shown wooing actress Rehana (Kangana Ranaut).
Emran Hashmi is introduced in a similar fashion, but as a reckless brat who’s unaffected by his father’s slaps and feels no shame or regret after stealing from people to have money to spend. Shoaib Khan (Emran Hashmi), like thousands of kids all over Mumbai, respects and admires Sultan Mirza, much to the chagrin of the top cops, who don’t think youngsters should aspire to become like the gangster. Shoaib Khan then is shown courting Prachi Desai, and the entire first half of the film is about how differently these two dons are treated by the world, how they behave around women, and the way they think about Mumbai.
In the second half, OUATIM turns into a full-fledged masala flick with the ‘70s look and ‘80s Bollywood treatment. Rajat Aroraa has crammed in way too much dialogue, and for most of the movie, it’s people throwing unasked wisdom at each other. The lines are clever, corny, clichéd and so long and dramatic that it makes you laugh to see everybody on screen try to prove himself wiser than the other.
OUATIM is an ordinary story that has been unnecessarily stretched to have Ajay Devgn play an extension of his role in Company. Emran Hashmi is a delight to watch, and Kangana Ranaut and Prachi Desai are good, but Milan Luthria tries so hard to spell everything out that it’s impossible to take this verbose film seriously.