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08 June 2023

Bollywood's 'Ek Villain' lets Siddarth Malhotra expose 'bad' side

By Sneha May Francis

Bollywood’s always been about the heroes. They hog the spotlight by thumping the baddies, pumping their muscles, flashing their six-pack abs and dancing with the beauties (heroines, and even the item girls). Basically, they make the movie. The rest of the cast get a raw deal, with the villains often left to growl, frown, roll their eyes, and get beaten before calling it quits.

Filmmaker Mohit Suri, however, decides to turn the tables, and elevate the state of the villains by telling a story that puts them in the spotlight. Only, his take on the bad guy is not really about the bad guy but a guy who poses like a bad guy.

Apart from the hard-hitting first few minutes, where he clearly pushes the boundaries, Mohit quickly sinks back into the unimaginative zone.

With not one but two villains, and Mohit’s inability to count accurately reflected in his movie title, it was obvious that it was downhill from there on.

His ‘Ek Villain’ has so many inconsistencies and bad acting that it makes 135-minutes of screen time seem like forever.

Clearly he bit more than he could possibly chew. Probably he was so overwhelmed by his game-changer of an idea that he tried doing so many things at one go, that he was ineffective in pulling it all together.

'Ek Villian' is about the malicious Guru, who kills on order, and does the occasional rounds at the police station without any remorse. Suddenly he gets converted from a rowdy to a romantic, because he skips his heartbeat for an annoyingly chirpy girl who cracks bad jokes.

It’s her scrapbook of bucket lists that he then helps bring alive.

From playing with butterflies to uniting lovers, to becoming famous for a day, to saving a life, her wishes are as random as one could possibly imagine.

Guru gets so busy striking things off Aisha’s scrapbook and taking Polaroid shots of those accomplishments that he forgets about karma.

The bad karma finally catches up in the form of a red screwdriver-wielding baddie called Rakesh, who goes about murdering every woman who angers him. But, not before wearing his shiny black, hooded raincoat and yellow gloves.

“I’m doing this because I love my wife, and I want her to say ‘I love you’ to me,” is his outlandish explanation. He even takes home his victim’s jewellery as a keepsake for his wife, who nags about him making little money, but never quizzes about where the jewels come from.

There’s also a police officer, who despite knowing about Rakesh refuses to nab the serial killer and patiently watches women being killed because he’s waiting for Guru to hand over his elusive notorious boss. It’s a barter system of the strangest kind.

This is vintage Mohit where he lamely piggybanks on “women’s rights” but ends up making a mockery of it.

His movies are about never about the story but the soothing sound tracks and little-known actors and plots that are referenced from Hollywood.

‘Ek Villian’ is all that, and more. It's a classic case of bad casting.

While Mohit might’ve thought it was a crackling idea to give an image makeover to Karan Johar’s mushy ‘Student of the Year’ Siddarth Malhotra and funny man Riteish Deshmukh, he didn’t have the material or the insight to execute it.

Instead, he let the actors fumble, falter and fall flat on their faces.

Although Riteish is fairly earnest, writer Abdallah Khursheed creates the most unbalanced character for him. His Rakesh switches from a menacing killer to an obedient husband at the snap of a finger. And the reason for the shift in temperament is nothing but his “nagging wife”.

Siddarth plays up his bad side with nothing more than a tattoo, stubble and gruff voice. He’s worked out a body, no doubt, but one that’s left unused. It’s evident that Mohit was secretly more interested in cashing in on Siddarth’s romantic image than working on his bad boy alteration. So, when the music tracks turn on and the romance kicks in, Siddarth quickly abandons his puzzled expression and looks at ease.

There is a scene where he walks in, with Amitabh Bachchan’s ShahenShah moment played in the backdrop, that’s most inappropriate.

Shraddha Kapoor goes all out to play bubbly, but ends up exposing her inability to act instead.

Even musician Remo Fernandes makes a comeback to the big screen, not as a singer, but as an actor. He attempts to play don Caeser but ends up looking undignified and lost.

That’s not all. Mohit even allots screentime to a fairly incompetent Kamal R Khan, who squeaks and grins through his part.

The romance in the movie is lacklustre, with Shraddha and Siddarth sharing no real connect and ending up completely wooden.

If you thought ‘Humshakals’ was overloaded with bad jokes, then you are wrong. Mohit gives Sajid Khan a good fight with ‘Ek Villain’. The humour here is unintentional, of course!