Friday, January 27, 2012

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu 

Perfectly Average

In Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, the male lead, Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) is surprised to discover that a girl is happy to find him “perfectly average.”  She thinks she is paying him a compliment.

The term more or less describes the film and its modest romcom ambition—to appeal to urban teens, who are happy debating about the ratings to be given to the lead characters “bums”, since some screen time is expended on derrieres. Real emotions, real trauma,  real love?  Forget it...this is Karan Johar territory. Everybody—including those making the film—is out to have a good time.  Who even demands more that Rs 200-300 worth of ‘time pass’?  Get to see the bright lights and sights of Las Vegas, shot with gusto by David MacDonald, for the price of a ticket. Like the West, we also have to have Valentine’s Day attractions for the young urban multiplex audiences, who have started dating in earnest and so, need a steady supply of date movies.  Produce Karan Johar is only too glad to oblige.

In Karan’s world, it is perfectly normal for a middle class Rianna Braganza (Kareena Kapoor) from Mumbai to be struggling as a hair stylist in Las Vegas.  Have big budget, will blow up on foreign location.

Typically, she is the chronically happy chatterbox with a great “capacity” for booze, and, amazingly, no friends. He is the uptight, bullied-by-parents (Boman Irani-Ratna Pathak Shah), sulky architect.  The meet cute is at a supermarket where he lends her change and then they both go to a “psychologist” (Batra probably means psychoanalyst) as if it’s the most natural thing to do, when you have broken up with boyfriend or been sacked.

In films, loosening up or having fun means getting drunk or stoned or both; like What Happens in Las Vegas, the two get drunk and wake up with a hangover and a marriage certificate.  With predictable script contrivance, she is left homeless, moves in with him and loosens him up so much that he falls in love.  All this is so close to Jab We Met, with actor and location change, it emits déjà vu.  Kareena just changes her wardrobe.

Move to Mumbai, to her home populated by the extra-nutty (Hindi-speaking), noisy Goan family.  Perhaps, with the usual Bollywood stereotyping of ‘open-minded’ Catholics, Riana is shown to be a Braganza, so that she can have a family that doesn’t mind her landing up with a guy; her father even asks if he’d like to stay in Riana’s room.

To cut to the point, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is a formulaic romcom, with a slightly different end, which doesn’t exactly make it eligible for an Oscar.  There are some nice touches, some funny scenes—like Rahul’s dinner blow-out towards the end, that’s all.

A film like this depends on the actors, and both deliver exactly what’s expected because they’ve done it so often before, they could act (or not act in the case of Imran Khan) in their sleep.

Can’t say EMAET disappoints; in fact it comes up to the generally low expectations of  a romcom. It is just meant for keeping your eyes on the screen for the running time, and then leave behind with the empty popcorn tub.


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