The OG king of gangster thrillers, Sanjay Gupta is back with another crime action entertainer, which is once again, based in the city of Mumbai. After Shootout at Lokhandwala and Shootout at Wadala, Gupta’s Mumbai Saga focusses on the rise and eventual fall of gangster Amartya Rao (John Abraham). Rao comes from a lower-middle class family who gets embroiled in some petty criminal activities with gangsters, only to turn into a dreaded criminal himself. The movie explores his relationships with various people – from gangster Sada Anna (Suniel Shetty) to drug lord Nari Khan (Gulshan Grover) and politician Bhau (Mahesh Manjrekar), while majorly focusing on his clashes with other criminals like fellow gangster Gaitonde (Amole Gupte), industrialist Sunil Khaitan (Samir Soni), and his final face-off with Inspector Vijay Savarkar (Emraan Hashmi), who has his own ax to grind by seeing Rao dead.
An action-packed thrilling entertainer
From the word go Mumbai Saga packs in the action and punches. Everything in the film – from the fight sequences to the characters’ appearances – is made for thrills. The first half focuses on Amartya Rao’s rise as the crime boss of Mumbai, giving us a look into his various clashes with Gaitonde, which eventually leads to the public assassination of Gaitonde’s ally, Sunil Khaitan. The first half ends with a bang (quite literally) and then we get to see the ultimate clash of all – Rao vs Savarkar. The second half, while not as thrilling as the first on account of its major plot twists and convoluted storyline, comes to an end with the final showdown of two equally menacing and power-hungry men, the result of which is not surprising to any average Sanjay Gupta or action movie fan.
John Abraham is the top choice for Rao
Gupta’s gangsters have not just been intimidating in their actions, but carry on a fully filmy look and deliver in style. John Abraham seems perfect for the part, except for a few emotional scenes, where his acting seems almost cringeworthy. But when he transforms into the dreaded gangster, he looks thoroughly apt for the role. He beats down his enemies with a vigorous passion and delivers his punches with a menacing finesse. Emraan Hashmi proves to be a worthy adversary, and his Savarkar is given equal importance in the second half with a few good action sequences and powerful one-liners, which the actor performs flawlessly. The other actors in the film make fleeting appearances which limit their overall impact on the narrative, with the exception of Amole Gupte, who is connivingly convincing with his wicked smile. Suniel Shetty’s brief role also packs the punch.
The story of Mumbai gets lost in the masala saga
Mumbai Saga, during its promotions, was propositioned as a story about Mumbai’s changing landscape, as the city’s mills gave way to skyscrapers and shopping complexes. Set in an era when Mumbai was still Bombay, the movie aimed to explore how gangsters, politicians, capitalists, and other criminals took advantage of the changing tides to further their own agendas, but the overall narrative gets lost in the gangster saga. The movie rather focuses on Amartya’s story, with ‘Bombay’ being reduced to a backdrop. Honestly, this story could have been set in just about any city of India, where crime and corruption flourish like weeds in an unattended garden.
WATCH OR NOT
Mumbai Saga can be a little too long and its story is surely quite messy and cliched, but those are very minor reasons to skip this film. Action movie fans are in for a thrilling ride and if you especially enjoy gangster dramas, this is the film for you. John Abraham and his fellow actors are Sanjay Gupta’s answer to American cowboys and Italian crime lords and for viewers in India, that’s a treat you don’t want to miss.