Gangsters fascinate Milan Luthria, but not as criminals that hold cities hostage, but as colorful, flamboyant characters that also feel – fall in love, get jealous, get enraged, make wrong judgment calls etc. Shoaib (Akshay Kumar), the don in dark glasses, is the powerful, egotistical but highly flawed central character in the love triangle that forms the base of this film. The other two prongs are made up on his protégé Aslam (Imran Khan) and an aspiring actress, Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha), who becomes the object of desire for both boss and his soldier.
For a love triangle – where the three primary players are known to each other – to work, you need palpable chemistry between each of the three faces. However, while Sonakshi Sinha and Imran Khan manage to make their youthful romance sparkle, Akshay Kumar’s chemistry with both Sinha and Khan is wanting. The dialogue further dilutes the audience’s connection with the characters. Much like in part one, here too they speak mostly in metaphors and couplets; each line is meant to be a frontbencher pleaser. No one talks normally. Each sentence has some sort of pun or weighted meaning, for instance ‘Doodh main jo nimboo daale, paneer uska’.
Luthria and his writers spend the first hour and a half establishing the milieu, relationships, characters and love stories. During the last hour-plus you are waiting for the implosion as Shoaib, a villainous and selfish man, decides to destroy his former blue-eyed boy, all over a girl. The earlier agenda of tracking down Shoaib’s opponent Rawal (Mahesh Manjrekar) is forgotten along the way, marking the starting point for the film to unravel. Although Luthria does bring in some irony when, after taking care of Rawal, Shoaib marches into a police station only to go unnoticed and unrecognized.
The latter stage is when Kumar finally rises above all the posing, stylized posturing and lines delivered with equal affectation, to revel in Shoaib’s dark shades. Sinha is likable though Jasmine’s naiveté (or ignorance) is hard to believe. However her final screaming outburst leaves you squirming in embarrassment. Khan steps out of his comfort zone of urban rom-coms to take on a the part of a bad boy with a good heart who sings qawwalis, fights on train roofs, leaps off buildings and gets bashed up. But his underplayed performance is widely in contrast to Kumar’s swagger making you wonder which one of them got it wrong.
A number of cameos pop up – Sonali Bendre, Vidya Balan in a passing shot, Tiku Talsania, Sophie Chowdry. It doesn’t help. Because you want to be invested in Shoaib, Aslam and Jasmine – but how can you be invested in characters that sound so unnatural?