Saturday, February 18, 2012

Movie Review: Ekk Deewana Tha

A remake of the 2010 Tamil film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa clocking in at two and a half hours, Ekk Deewana Tha is so excruciatingly long and tedious that it knocks you straight into a nap—one could market it to parents of hyperactive kids. This remake is good for nothing other than to prove how the same story and songs can be turned into either a classic audience pleaser or a turgid dump.  

The story remains almost the same. Kokanastha Brahmin Sachin (Babbar) is an engineer who dreams of becoming a filmmaker. He falls for his slightly older Malayali Christian neighbour Jessie, much to the chagrin of her father and brother. Jessie is reticent at first, but Sachin lays it on thick and manages to charm her, and she slowly begins to give in. The story takes a slight detour from the original in the second half and it leads to a climax that strains not only the temples on your head but also the margins of suspension of disbelief. The final ten minutes are tacky and cheap, and completely enraging, and go against everything the heroine supposedly believes in. There is a ‘Director’s Cut’ of the film, also currently playing in select cinemas, that has a different climax, but the remainder contains the same shortcomings as the mainstream version.  

It’s impossible to detail the number of ways where Ekk Deewana Tha goes wrong. Firstly, Prateik is to acting what a chunk of baked ham is to Tambrahm cuisine, which is to say offensive from the outset. He also strikes me as a 12-year-old girl trapped in the body of a 25-year-old man. This works just fine when he is cast as an extra in unintentionally hilarious films like Aarakshan but it is disastrous when he appears as a romantic lead.  

Then there’s the ludicrous casting of former Miss Teen Great Britain Amy Jackson as a thoroughly desi sari-clad girl caked with layers of fake tan. It’s fortunate that Jackson is easy on the eyes because she crashes head on into the craft of acting like a derailed goods train. Every time her character tries to emote or smile, it comes across as if both the actress and the character are pleading at us to not look at them as over-priced wooden furniture. There isn’t an iota of chemistry between Prateik and Jackson, and we’re the ones who’re left to deal with their characters, mainly because the actors choose not to. 

The pacing is so slack that like my companion, you may fall asleep during one key plot point. The other big problem is that Ekk Deewana Tha is two movies in one, and both are shoddy. What this means is that the audience has to endure not one but two sets of contrivances in the climax. The second half is bitingly predictable and director Gautham Menon might as well have handed out copies of the script to the folks in the ticket lines.  

But the biggest gaffe of Ekk Deewana Tha is its terribly transitioned music. In bringing the songs to Hindi audiences, Menon and lyricist Javed Akhtar have sold themselves and the audiences short. A good translation of AR Rahman’s Tamil soundtrack into Hindi doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, but it does need to treat its composer with the same respect he put into creating the songs in the first place. Ekk Deewana Tha fails spectacularly in doing this, mistakenly believing that everyone will be happy to just see Prateik singing “Hosanna” in Hindi.

(First published in MumbaiBoss)

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