Ek Villain, or a manual on different ways of killing women, is a gory film that‘s hesitant to acknowledge its dark layers. On the surface, it’s mostly an optimistic movie with a preachy ‘Darkness can be destroyed only by light’ message.
A scowling goon called Guru (Siddharth You see, director Mohit Suri is attempting an opposites attract scenario— black-and-white, night- and- day, good- and- bad. But the categories are way too straitjacketed here.
As is usual with Hindi films, the makers confuse having a chirpy disposition, for behaving like a kid high on candy. So you have this grown-up character animatedly talking non-stop, telling jokes to unsuspecting victims (the jokes could rival those in Humshakals), and being hyper-happy. In fact here, she even pays our villain from her own grown-up version of a piggy bank.
Our hero’s frozen heart begins to melt under the heroine’s harsh sunny nature. They fall in love, though logical questions like why she’s attracted to a criminal begs to be answered (in one scene, he yells at her with a “you’ve no idea what I can do to you” threat. So charming, no?)
There’s another villain in the picture. Rakesh (Riteish) is a psychotic killer targeting women. So a female colleague that reprimands, a nurse that talks rudely, a lady that complains too loudly about his incompetence— he singles them out and brutally murders them.
His only friend is a wife-beater (Kamaal R Khan), who justifies his violent ways to the pressures of being a middle-class Indian (sigh).
A slippery cop gets involved. Guru wants to nail Rakesh for revenge. And crossing limits of permissible cinematic license, we see both the cop and Guru leave the psychotic killer loose to find other victims.
The dialogue is painfully lame. You have Guru describe his villainy as “mardaangi” (manliness). Indeed, this issue comes up again, when Kamaal R Khan’s misogynistic character makes fun of Rakesh’s “manliness” when he’s thrown out of the house by his wife. Anyone with an interest in psychology could have a whale of a time plucking out the film’s undercurrents…
This film is full of several villains, contrary to the film’s title. And the biggest one seems to be director Mohit Suri.
Suri, who recently made the evocative Aashiqui 2, is on slippery ground here. For one, he unabashedly borrows from several foreign films. There’s the obvious copying from Korean film I Saw The Devil, and there are other touches like the killer wearing a raincoat before the murders (American Psycho) and him wearing a mask (Hollywood slasher films).
The thriller aspect, that is basically about a serial killer targeting women, was recently explored to an equally gruesome effect in Murder 2 (interestingly, also directed by Suri!). So in essence, he’s not only reusing other people’s material in this film, he’s also rehashing his own!
On a lighter note, Lord Ganesha is omnipresent throughout the film and is seen in close-ups, pans, tilts and long shots. Plasticky sentimentality is expressed through the drawing of smileys on car windows.
The performances vary. Both Siddharth Malhotra and Shraddha Kapoor have done better in other movies. Their chemistry would have been interesting if it weren’t for the simplistic Mr. Scowl Meets Ms.Chirpy characterizations.
The scene-stealer is Riteish Deshmukh who redeems himself after the embarrassing Humshakals. Deshmukh is fabulous, folding in a palpable eeriness in his performance.
The songs are lovely, and are a welcome relief to the hyper-emotional/ hyper-violent developments.
Watch if it a film that’s essentially unoriginal, with plasticky emotions, and unnecessary gore fills up your soul. The only redeeming aspect is Riteish Deshmukh’s performance, but that would mean enduring the rest of the film as well!