Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu comes with a rare, unexpected and charming subtlety

A few days ago, I did a story on Karan Johar and his production house on how it has constantly done something good for cinema amidst all the hate that is bestowed upon him and his company. You can check out the post here. Today, almost two weeks later, I stand vindicated, ridiculously confident and shamelessly smirked. Agneepath pretty much nailed the point I was trying to make in the post. And how about this one, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu? Although most unexpectedly, EMAET is like a fine dinner outing at an upscale restaurant, with good landscape views and good food in the odd 1 hour 50 mins it runs for, yet manages to avoid serving the syrupy sugar, considering the beaten and battered genre its trying to make work. Despair not, hope is still alive in romantic comedies and believe it or not, an Indian filmmaker gets it right possibly after Jab We Met, barring the imperfect ones in between which almost made it there at times.

Let me make it clear on the onset. EMAET is NOT What Happens in Vegas. Period.

When the trailer of EMAET was released, I had conveniently concluded that Imran and KJo would follow from the lines of I Hate Luv Storys which was regressive and moronic and deliver another rom-com, a beaten to death genre. I also believe that Imran Khan is sporadically amazing where he gave an IHLS but also a Delhi Belly. Never know what hes gonna deliver. But I got intrigued when the reviews started pouring in for this one, and the most cynical of critics started lauding it which made me go watch it asap. Pinning my hopes on the mammoth monster Agneepath, I had safely deluded myself from this little film that has come out barely two weeks after the former. A brave move by KJo, again. But EMAET is nothing like Agneepath. If raw defines the latter, its subtlety thats engraved upon each frame of EMAET. You dont miss the commotion, the hoopla or the thrill because you get the more persistent flavor of this one as it breezes past you.

EMAET is almost like a conversation movie where the two leads, Imran and Kareena, have to be on screen for pretty much all the time and it barely relies on any of its other characters, yet it manages to engage you all through, owing to its taut screenplay by Ayesha DeVitre and Shakun Batra. They made sure to keep some laughs going all through and cut the length short so that you hardly get time to snooze or sulk in the melodrama. But what really makes a difference in this film is the treatment the first time director Shakun Batra lends to this non-schmaltzy, non-grim and non-traditional fare. He steadfastly appeases your senses with relatable character sketches and provides an 'indie' feel to the movie. EMAET avoids mush, but avoids originality too, sadly. They shove in ideas from everywhere and dabble with a much-overdone genre wading through with a new approach. Even if they did succeed, not many people might be willing to witness the success story. Going along with one of the philosophies expressed in the movie, its okay to be average if you are perfectly average. The movie does not over or under whelm you, its just in right amount with a lasting fervor. Its the modesty and calmness that wins you over, despite it being nothing innovative.

Music of the film, by the genius Amit Trivedi, is incisive and very well integrated with the script at each instant. The background score by Clinton Cerejo is on point. Editing by Ali Asif Shaikh is notches above Agneepath, he should have been taken there too. Cinematography is topical and captures Vegas in the most charming but non-tacky way. The Production Design is amazing like all KJo movies, lots of rich people wearing black, lots of classy parties and dinners, and everything else that comes with the richest class of Indians. Dialogues are okay.

Imran Khan sinks his teeth deep into this one and plays an unapologetic mama's boy with striking brilliance. He makes sure he does not sleep walk through this one as he has a changed dialogue delivery, expressions and even a silence. Even when he is so uptight about everything, his subtlety is infectiously heartwarming. Kareena reprises her role from Jab We Met and delivers another stellar performance. This might not add another movie to her Rs 100Cr movie list but she still makes the character come to life and you know that you have met a girl like that. Both of them together make the the film what it is, with their genteel sense of detailed prescience. Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah are well suited. The guy who plays Kareena's dad is the best cameo ever. None of the other supporting characters stick out like a sore thumb and thats the good part.

EMAET is not extraordinary, but it has a certain depth in its treatment that will leave you charmed. The fun and frolic is there too. Kudos to Shakun Batra for handling a rom com with a flair of Woody Allen films and squeezing good performances from his lead cast. The hype around the film has been subdued due to the Karan Johar cliche but the guy has been supporting new talents for ages. Go watch it for him!

Rating - 3/5

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