Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ek Villain

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to run information down as you're writing a review. As I mention below, I kind of had I Saw the Devil in the back of my head when I was watching Ek Villain, but I actually managed to convince myself that it maybe started from a similar place but was its own thing as I watched it. Then I get home, open IMDB and Wikipedia for reference, and see that not only was this considered by many a rip-off of IStD, but that director Mohit Suri apparently has a reputation for such things. It's not the first Hindi-language movie I've seen that pulls this, although I went into Zinda knowing it to be a rip on Oldboy while Son of Sardaar quickly showed itself to be a pretty direct descendant of Our Hospitality. I try to judge movies like this on their own merits, but once that gets into your head, it can be difficult to overlook. It can make the whole review a list of how Ek Villain is just not as good as I Saw the Devil if you're not careful.

Which is funny, because I think that while I was watching it, I probably liked it more than the crowd. They were laughing at the points where it seemed kind of campy, and there seemed to be some kids way too young for this material behind me. It's no great movie, but it's not like I was seeing Trans4mers or anything.

Ek Villain

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 28 June 2014 at Regal Fenway #8 (first-run, digital)

Given that uncredited Indian remakes of movies from other countries aren't exactly uncommon, it's not totally unfair that I went into Ek Villain with I Saw the Devil in the back of my head; you don't have to squint that much to see Kim Jee-woon's terrific serial killer movie in this one's plot description. In the quite likely event that there is inspiration there, director Mohit Suri and writer Tushar Hiranandani have lost something in translation but they've still made a decent thriller.

Aisha (Shraddha Kapoor) is cute, sweet, and funny; she's obviously doomed, and the worst happens while her husband Guru (Sidharth Malhotra) is at a job interview for a security position. As CBI agent Aditya Rathore (Shaad Randhawa) points out, the police had better find the killer fast, because two years ago, Guru was the main enforcer for Goa's top gangster (Remo Fernandes). Rathore tries to point Guru in this Caesar's direction, since at that point nobody knows about mild-mannered telephone repairman Rakesh Mahadkar (Riteish Deshmukh).

Ek Villain starts at what could be the start of a great cat-and-mouse game, but it spends a lot of the pre-interval half flashing back to how Guru and Aisha met in Goa, Guru's dark past, and Rakesh's nasty tendencies. It's not the little bit of everything you'd see in a masala film - the songs are something that plays in the background rather than something characters sing themselves (aside from the item number), for instance - but the filmmakers make the romance between Guru and Aisha more affecting than might be expected in that it would work well enough in a lightweight drama without the audience knowing how it's going to end. There's a lot of fairly clumsy manipulation going on, especially in how Aisha's situation apparently can't be tragic enough for the filmmakers. Also, even for a movie about a serial killer who preys on women, the ladies in this movie have it pretty rough - Suri, HIranandani, and dialog-writer Milap Zaveri seem to go a bit out of their way to make both Rakesh's victims and his wife (Aamna Sharif) sort of unpleasant - Aisha is the exception, but she's often almost a childish innocent rather than an independent woman - and a bit of casual domestic abuse that goes uncomfortably unanswered in a movie that is all about both slights and crimes being answered in grand, violent fashion.

Full review at EFC

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