Director: Mohit Suri
Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Sidharth Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor
Rating: 2 stars
After the out-and-out romantic blockbuster ‘Aashiqui 2’, director Mohit Suri decided to change tracks and make an attempt to get into the mind of the anti-hero with ‘Ek Villain.’ Said to be inspired by the Korean mega-hit ‘I Saw The Devil’, this film, however, is a potboiler from the word go.
The director may have wanted to paint shades of grey but what emerges is a clear polarity of black and white. So there’s the villain-esque hero Guru (Sidharth Malhotra), the complete baddie Rakesh (Riteish Deshmukh) who ends up carrying the film on his shoulders and the pure-as-snow, capable of no wrong Ayesha (Shraddha Kapoor).
The narrative wastes no time and jumps head on into the shocking events that pave the way for the story to unfold. And soon you realise that ‘Ek Villain’ is not a whodunit. The story teller puts all his cards on the table and then uses the device of a non-linear narrative to justify the actions of his characters. When a story goes back and forth, the writing, at the very least, needs to be crisp and clear enough to bring it all together. This is where the film suffers. Throughout the first half, the parallel plot lines of the past and the present often blend into each other and not in a way they are supposed to.
The film starts off with an unlikely love story played out between a hardened criminal Guru and Miss Do-gooder Ayesha who reside in Goa. She, who initially seems to be a terminally ill patient of a mystery disease, brings out the good in the bad boy as a series of weepy love tracks play in the background.
And by now you are already halfway up Mount Cliché. Guru, who reincarnates as a good man, marries her and moves to Mumbai. Their plans of starting afresh are ruined when Ayesha falls prey to a psychotic killer, Rakesh, and the rest of the story, which is more than half the film’s length, plays out as the classic revenge track.
The predictable trail of Guru’s story is somewhat offset by the more capricious Rakesh played by Riteish Deshmukh. The actor’s nuanced take of a lower middle-class family man who moonlights as a psychotic killer provides the film its much-needed edge.
His deceptive calm makes the character all the more menacing and he manages to provide a few chills as he goes about his business. It’s clear that the writers spent a lot of time etching out this character who has several layers of villainy inside him. And to have the poster boy of slapstick comedy play the part is a gamble that has paid off handsomely.
Sidharth’s Guru packs a punch, but only literally. The boy, even with his extra muscles, remains too cute and puppy-eyed to pull off a villain. The frowns and scowls, (his sole repertoire of emotions in this film) can only do so much for him. The two-hero film doesn’t leave much room for Shraddha who’s made to crack PJs (that seem to have been edited out of Humshakals) for most of her screen time. Aamna Sharif makes herself count in the part of an unsuspecting, nagging wife while Remo Fernandes who plays godfather to Guru is much rehearsed melodrama.
The plot is fast-paced but highly indulgent. The hero seeks revenge. The villain doesn’t mind being killed. A cop who doesn’t know which villain he must side with. The question marks become hard to ignore after a point.
Watch the film for Riteish and Riteish alone just to see how effortlessly he slips out of his farcical ‘Humshakals’ pinafore into the heinous hood of ‘Ek Villain’.