‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbai’ merges with ‘D’ to form this smorgasbord of pulp fiction surrounding the lives of underworld kingpins while highlighting the piquant situation that Hasseena Parkar finds herself in following the notoriety and mayhem that her absconding brother Dawood Ibrahim allegedly unleashed on the city of Mumbai.
While Dawood fled Mumbai to Dubai, his sister and her family were left behind to bear the brunt of the investigative onslaught launched by the Mumbai Police following the serial blasts of 1992. Lakhia’s film takes us on a journey back in time, showcasing younger sister Haseena’s (Shradha Kapoor) closeness with her brother Dawood (Siddhant Kapoor) which continues even after he hog-tails it to Dubai after the underworld came under a cloud following then Police Commissioner D.S Soman’s dictat that called upon the police to eliminate all the gangsters in the city.
The film begins mysteriously with Haseena’s burqa clad ride in a taxi followed by several others, in an attempt to enter the courtroom where she has been summoned, incognito. It’s an opening that falls flat on its face for what comes after does not justify it in any fashion. Haseena Apa is after all a known face in Nagpada, Dongri area and her antics following her brother’s fleeing from the country and her husband Ibrahim Parkar’s (Ankur Bhatia) murder, followed by her son Danesh’s accidental death is pretty much well documented by the newspaper headlines of those days.
But unfortunately, there’s not much corroborative evidence that can nail her in a courtroom – that’s what this film claims and therein lies the problem with this biopic. There’s really nothing corroborative here to prove Haseena’s complicity in the acts of violence, extortion and threats other than her brother’s protective long-arm tactics on show.
Lakhia tells this story in flashbacks that cut away from the obviously amplified courtroom histrionics that eventually lose steam because of lack of evidence. That’s the plight of the filmed experience too. Shradha as Haseena, in the courtroom plays it dead-pan emotionless and while in the face of tragedy she goes on a hyper-shrill variant that appears obviously prompted. ‘Godmother’ like posturing doesn’t aid grittiness either.
It’s not a consistent performance and neither is it a well-defined character- though her effort to come through as effective is obvious. There’s ample violence and blood-letting too but it’s deja-vu stuff. Her sudden transformation from a timid, fearful shrinking violet to an assertive, aggressive woman of the world is also not a plausible one. Lakhia’s effort, while pandering to showiness and hyper-bol has little to recommend it to a discerning audience looking for cerebral entertainment!
Film: Haseena Parkar
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhant Kapoor, Priyanka Settia, Ankur Bhatia, Uttam Haldar, Charanpreet Singh, Rajesh Tailang
Director: Apoorva Lakhia