It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic),
Karan Anshuman is a film critic for Mumbai Mirror. He's worked on a bunch of movie projects, none of which you've ever seen...yet! He's a history, photography, squash, web 2.0, food, and gaming enthusiast who would trade his soul to travel the world.
EK MAIN AUR EKK TU: Well Above Average
Director: Shakun Batra; Cast: Imran Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Sonia Mehra, Ram Kapoor, Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak
Rated U/A; Runtime: 1 hour 46 minutes
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is an imaginative reversal of the traditional romcom format that effectively uses the setting of Las Vegas and its rickety instant marriage laws. Two contrasting personalities get hitched the first day they meet and spend the next two weeks of their lives discovering each other and, in the process, their own selves.
Imran Khan plays Rahul Kapoor, a man socially straightjacketed by his rich and irrational parents’ upbringing. An architect squarely asked to aspire to be a part of the world’s best firms; he irons his socks and underwear, wears drab colors, and lives in a polished, sterilized bubble of his own. Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor), a hairstylist and typically bohemian, has a polar opposite personality. The attraction is momentarily magnetic, catalyzed by alcohol. The chemistry is less than sizzling once they’re sober (she benevolently labels him “perfectly average”) and the characters start from scratch, a marriage certificate in their hands.
A string of linear progressive incidents neatly packaged into chapters propel the narrative. Situations are not always critical to plot, but the focus is clearly the protagonists. Rahul’s parents’ visit to Vegas in the beginning is an outstanding illustration of establishing character. His doubtful date and a bathroom seduction scene with a nymphomaniac is hilarious and hammers home his awkwardness. The sentimental stretches are subtle and devoid of characteristic Karan Johar levels of EQ. As a melancholic tune plays in the background, Rahul decides to give up on the short-lived free-spirited life he enjoyed fleetingly and revert back to his old self. One shot sums it up: a close-up of his sport shoes pushed under the bed and exchanged for his old formal wear. Understated yet direct, like much of the film.
Shakun Batra and his co-writer Ayesha Devitre refuse to fall into a trap of the classic Bollywood scheme and the climax will leave you astonished with its disarming ease, restraint and honesty. Major props for an unpredictable end.
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is a rare Hindi movie that is filmed with treatment that actually gets translated from paper and a storyboard to an audiovisual design that the story inherently needs. In interviews, Batra has talked of his influences – Wes Anderson and Woody Allen – creeping into his moviemaking, and you know what… they actually have. Anderson’s visual elements – striking use of symmetry, negative spaces, and synchronized movements of characters and camera – enhance storytelling and find meaning. Coupled with Allen’s brand of comedy bordering on the absurd, and his dysfunctional characters – who’re ever so slightly exaggerated (so critical to this brand of humor) – it’s the cinematic language the director has chosen that is the real hero here. Kudos to cinematographer David MacDonald and production designer Shashank Tere.
Imran Khan is superbly cast and he doesn’t let down. His body language slackens in progression as the script demands and he is absolutely spot on with his comic timing. Kareena plays his foil as if it comes naturally to her. And while the entire ensemble of the support cast brings their A-game to this production, a special mention must be made of Ratna Pathak Shah’s hoity-toity SoBo wife portrayal that could’ve only come from method and years of experience as an actor.
I’m hard-pressed to find too many flaws in the film. I didn’t care much for a couple of logical liberties (including two Hindi-speaking Indian psychologists in a single building in Vegas) and the sudden setting of a critical dinner where Rahul decides to go ballistic, but these are easily overlooked. The truth is, when you have an uncomplicated story to tell and you’re backed by prodigious production expertise where compromise is not an option, it’s hard to go wrong.
EMAET is a tremendous debut by Shakun Batra whose sensibilities are in sync with what’s right in this world. When a romcom goes beyond being a perfectly sweet and enjoyable date movie to a film that may be recommended across the board, you know you have a winner.
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