There is always a market for sleek, superficial, Valentine’s day date movies about the liberating power of love and being true to your own self. The new Karan Johar-produced rom-com Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is one such film, and it almost manages to succeed over the hackneyed conventions of the genre.
Debutant director Shakun Batra’s ripoff, correction, homage to What happened in Vegas and Recien Cazado is unabashedly slushy and syrupy, and if your favourite movie is Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or The Notebook, then Ek Mai Aur Ekk Tu is just the film for you. The less romantic will find the entirety of this movie to be a tremendously trite, ham-handed endurance test.
On the bright side director Batra’s twist on the standard rom-com clichés is that Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu isn't bogged down by the ‘made for each other’ machination that makes a sappy Bollywood ending inevitable. The film is mostly breezy and fun as Batra and his co-writer Ayesha Devitre avoid formulaic pomposity one finds in garbage like Jhootha Hi Sahi. It helps that Amit Trivedi’s music here is just as lighthearted and inviting as the glossy Vegas locales where the first half is set. Fifty percent of the leads are excellent - Kareena Kapoor is bright as sunshine and cruises with charming quirks and cutesy details, but Imran Khan’s mechanical performance, where he bumbles over his attempts at humor, almost sabotages her role. He labors so hard to whip life into his character that he possibly pulled a muscle or two. Teenage girls will squeal at his dreamy eyes and hair, but Imran’s forced tedium just drags us through his character’s daddy and mommy issues and uncomfortable whims that he makes you want to grab and shake him awake.
Here we have Rahul Kapoor (Imran), the obedient 25-year-old son of a rich couple (Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah) who loses his job at a top construction company in Las Vegas. Rahul has never made a choice of his own in his life, and is afraid to go against his dad’s plan of being drafted into the family business and get married a colleague’s daughter. Rahul chances upon the happy-go-lucky hairstylist Riana (Kareena) at a shrink’s office, and after a drunken night on Christmas, he wakes up to find out that they got married at one of the infamous Vegas chapels. Rahul and Riana decide to procure an annulment, but as expected, Rahul realizes that Riana might just be the beacon of light in his perfunctory life.
We’ve had too many rom-coms that feature mid-twenties boys and girls complaining about daddy issues and how they find someone who changes their lives, but in the case of Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu Imran’s character manages to keep the plot truism to a thankful minimum. A more mature and realistic portrayal of the same, however, was done by Siddharth in the Telugu film Bommarillu.
The production design and David Mac Donald’s photography are crafted with meticulous care - the Vegas locales are menthol cool, graciously not the least bit schlocky like in Anjaana Anjaani. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the dialogue, which seems as if it should come attached to big white balloons hovering over the characters' heads. Sample Imran saying to Kareena: ‘Duniya me do type ke parents hote hai, jo Cola aur Candy allow karte hai, aur jo nahi’. The comedy isn’t particularly hilarious, in fact most of the jokes are just sitcom level - all they’re devoid of are the accompanying laugh tracks. Most of the giggles arise from the few physical comedy bits, one of which involves Imran falling over a couch and another where he walks out of a restaurant bathroom dripping wet.
What Ek Mai Aur Ekk Tu has going for itself is the excellent supporting cast. Ratna Pathak Shah proves yet again that she is by far the most likable person on both the telly and the big screen. Ram Kapoor as Irani’s business partner is fun in his cameo, more so is Nikhil Kapoor who plays Kareena’s jovial dad. Both Ratna Pathak and Irani are given minuscule roles, one wonders why they weren’t given full reigns towards the climax, a plot point that was again better explored in the climax of Bommarillu.
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is a generic predictable lollypop rom-com date movie and star vehicle all rolled into one lustrous package. It isn’t the least bit original, but it doesn’t annihilate your patience levels the way I Hate Luv Stories and Break Ke Baad did.
(First published in Mumbaiboss)