ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI
Until last night, Chicago was in the throes of a long, humid heat wave - with heat indexes topping 100 degrees.
On Saturday I fought back by going to the area's only all-Indian cinema in Niles.
Big Cinemas shows Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and other Indian-language movies on several screens (only the Hindu films have English subtitles). It's got stadium seating with super-comfortable seats, and the vending area features Indian snacks. Plus the intermissions are real intermissions (as in India, they stop the film for 10 minutes, so you can run to the lobby, use the w.c., get a chai or samosa, and run back in....only here in America the samosas are six dollars, not six rupees).
I'm a sucker for a tall, handsome man wearing white, which is what lead actor Ajay Devgan, who plays a mob boss with a conscience (and is loosely based on Haji Mastan), does throughout the film. Kangna Ranaut is his stunning moll. Plus it's set in Bombay of the 70s, before drugs and guns and widespread communal violence.
The perfectly-cast Emraan Hashmi plays a sullen, up-and-coming smuggler with a six-pack and is loosely based on mobster-cum-alleged-international terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.
Kangana Ranaut is the cop/narrator who hopes the two will duke it out and leave a small mess for the police to clean up.
It all blows up in his face of course.
I thought it was well-acted, well-directed, and well-written and perfectly set-up for a sequel. The sets, songs and costumes were all spot-on. Plus it was lacking the usual extraneous exposition and histrionics, coming in at just over two hours.
And the AC was wonderful.
* * *
As I was paying to see the fillum, a gentleman behind the counter asked, "You are going to the cinema by yourself?"
"Yes," I said. "I do everything by myself. I eat by myself, I live by myself...."
And then I held my tongue and braced myself for the worst.
But it was not forthcoming.
After a pause, the man said,