Ek Villain: Shockingly, this Riteish Deshmukh film isn't bad
Suri takes the core of I Saw The Devil and turns it into a melodramatic, manipulative, pyaar-mohabbat-dardi-humdardi drama.
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.
Then something miraculous happened that made me feel sympathetic towards Suri: Kamaal R Khan showed up in Ek Villain as a ‘Best employee of the month’ and cracked a ‘2 Rupees people’ joke. The KRK character embodied the spirit of Bollywood filmmaking that was giving the finger to the fans of the Korean original.
Suri is a director who has mostly earned fame by ripping off phoren films and turning them into melodramatic Hindi romances, and his target audience demographic usually digs this kind of filmmaking and is uncaring about originality. So, keeping this in mind, how exactly does Ek Villain fare as a film? Shockingly, it’s not so bad. Suri takes the core of I Saw The Devil and turns it into a melodramatic, manipulative, pyaar-mohabbat-dardi-humdardi 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, for no reason other than the fact that he is a murdering psycho. Suri and his team of Tushar Hiranandani and Milap Zaveri have tried to add ‘nuance’ to the villain's character by by adding an hour of backstory. They also add in two hours of love story – because you should feel for the revenge-seeker’s loss and justify his actions.
And what a love story. The heroine is such a divine character she would make angels cut off their wings. She worships Lord Ganesha, plays with kids, helps random terminally-ill old people get married -- all this while 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 bad things happen to said girl, 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 heart-rending songs and it’s the ultimate paisa vasool that a vast number of Indian cinema-goers 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. 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 after Aashiqui 2 will be even more entranced by her this time, because apart from once again falling for a misogynist douchebag, 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.
The villain is actually pretty well rendered by Ritesh Deshmukh. Like in almost 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. Perhaps this will help him get some genuinely great and/or original movies.
In the Korean original, 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.
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