How would you feel if one evening you walked in to your home and found it ransacked and your loved one brutally assaulted? That’s how I felt ten minutes after walking in to watch Ek Villain. My heart was ransacked, and one of my all time favourite films I Saw The Devil was brutally assaulted by director Mohit Suri. Like the protagonist of the original film, I wanted revenge and felt an intense urge to physically and mentally torture Suri for breaking my heart.
But then something miraculous happened that made me sympathetic towards Suri: Kamaal R Khan shows up in the film as a ‘Best employee of the month’ and cracks a ‘2 Rupees people’ joke. That’s when I realized that literally no one associated with the film gives a tinkers cuss about people complaining of Ek Villain’s similarities to I Saw the Devil. The KRK character was the combined entity of the spirit of Bollywood filmmaking giving the finger to the fans of the Korean original.
Now considering that this is a product of Mohit Suri, a guy who has mostly earned fame ripping off phoren films and turning them into melodramatic romances, and the target audience demographic which mostly digs this kind of thing, how does Ek Villain exactly fare as a film? Shockingly, it’s not so bad. Suri takes the core of the original film and turns it into a full on melodramatic manipulative pyaar mohabbat dardi humdrardi drama.
One of the reasons the original is a classic is that it skips over the love story and focuses purely on the revenge section. Another reason is that the villain in that film is a murdering psycho, just because he is. Suri and his team of Tushar Hiranandani and Milap Zaveri make the story even more ‘nuanced’ by adding in an hour of backstory for the villain – because they feel you need to understand why his character goes on a killing spree. They also add in two hours of love story – because you should feel for the character’s loss and justify his actions.
Aur kya love story hai bhai. The heroine is such a divine character she would make angels cut off their wings. She worships Lord Ganesha, plays with kids, helps unrelated terminally ill old people get married, despite being terminally ill herself. Kya heroine hai bhai. The hero, a goonda falls in love with her and decides to leave his life of crime, get a job, ‘come clean’, cure her terminal illness and marry her. And when the girl gets pregnant and dies, he spends the entire film avenging his heroine. Kya hero hai bhai. Plus there are amazing contrivances like Lord Ganesha himself appearing multiple times to save the good people from misery. Add in all the weepy heartrending songs and it’s the ultimate paisa vasool ‘filmi’ film that audiences here long for.
Now we come to the difficult topic of the acting department. Sidharth Malhotra is a good-looking guy for sure, but the man’s facial muscles move at the speed of Swiss glaciers. One desperately expects him to emote, but whether he’s trying to render happiness, or pain, or pity, or desperation, or love his face remains exactly the same. At various points you want to grab him by the collar and shout YOUR WIFE IS DEAD DUDE AREN’T YOU LIKE UNHAPPY? He doesn’t even emote during the action, and it doesn’t help that he’s part of a contrastingly well shot two minute long single take fight scene.
On the other hand those who fell in love with Shraddha Kapoor post Aashiqui 2 will be even more entranced by her this time, because apart from once again falling for a misogynist asshat, she rides a Royal Enfield. She’s great at playing the quintessential bubbly but tragic filmi Bollywood heroine, but it’d be nice if she moved away from her comfort zone some day.
The villain is actually pretty well rendered by Ritesh Deshmukh. Like in pretty much every previous film of his, he’s a refreshingly big talent in a pool of mediocrity. In Ek Villain he proves that he can be a really great dramatic actor, and if this nets him some genuinely great and/or original movies I couldn’t be happier.
In the original film there is psychotic character who is such a good friend of the antagonist that he feels happy when the latter proceeds to violate his slave wife. KRK manages to play a character even more despicable than that, and it comes so naturally to him. I tip my hat to Mr Khan, and I have made up my mind to recommend every film that he appears in, including this one.
(First published in Firstpost)