Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Deeply flawed, fatally self-defeating

Reading Time: 2 minutesFilm: Ek Villain

Starring: Siddharth Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh

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Director: Mohit Suri

Rating: **

Siddharth simmers and scorches onscreen with his implosive one-man-against-the-world act. As a loner on a rampage after the love of his life is killed, he brings to the table a certain intensity which unfortunately, in this case, can only go this far and no further.

We are looking at a film that is deeply flawed and fatally self-defeating.

Much was expected from the director after Aashiqui 2. Alas, Suri chooses to wallow in unnecessary and at times prolonged brutality rather than focus on the tender love story between the seething brute and the bubbly babe.

Not that there is anything new to offer in the love story. The silent indignant loner and the gregarious chirpy girl next door… haven’t we seen Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri take those two characters to the acme of perfection in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Mili?

Ek Villain is Mili over-heaped with a maelstrom of mayhem, mostly uncalled-for and sometimes atrociously out of place. The action sometimes borders on the utterly ludicrous. This isn’t the first time the director has seemed to enjoy visualising the exploits of a sadistic serial killer. In Murder 2 as well, the gruesome killings of the serial offender were recorded with an embarrassing backhanded relish.

The killer in Ek Villain is a henpecked husband moonlighting as a guy who believes if life screws you, use a screwdriver to screw other people’s lives.

Providentially, this incoherent serial killer is played by Riteish Deshmukh who interprets the character with more cogency than it demands.

Suri diminishes the brutality by offsetting it with the love story between the criminally-inclined introvert (Siddharth) and the sunshine girl (Shraddha) who insists on telling unfunny jokes. Shraddha’s eyes speak volumes. So unfortunately does her mouth in this film. How I wish our cinema would stop equating volubility with vivacity.

More regrettable are the plot’s mood swings. In spite of the tragic overtones, the love story never quite acquires the wings that you’d expect of a romance between two such good-looking people. In spite of some beautifully enacted moments of fragile passion between the lead pair, it all comes undone in the second-half when Siddharth and Riteish do a farcical face-off replete with the most atrocious dialogue and scenes that make them look like two school boys fighting over who’s larger.

The sinister often makes way for the silly, especially when musician Remo Fernandes shows up as a gangster replete with an accent that is as hard to identify. Even more bizarre is Kamaal R Khan playing what looks a jerk with knee-jerk relish.

However, Shaad Randhawa displays a powerful screen presence as the policeman.

There are many lapses of continuity in the storytelling, all trying to pass off as a stylish non-linear love story told backwards. One of the turning points in the story, when Siddharth’s character befriends his wife’s killer’s little son in a church, is such a wildly improbable shot in the dark, you wonder what the director was thinking!

The film finally falls apart like the shattered pieces of a broken heart.

We expect so much and get so little. That’s life.


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