Old habits die hard. Director Mohit Suri is infamous for ripping off foreign films scene-to-scene without crediting them. He did it with his debut Zeher (Hollywood film “Out Of Time”), Awarapan (South Korean film “A Bittersweet Life”), Murder 2 (South Korean film “The Chaser”) and Aashiqui 2 (Hollywood film “A Star Is Born”). This time, he’s back with Ek Villain, ripped off from South Korean film “I Saw The Devil”.
South Koreans specialize in these kind of films: making dark, edge-of-the-seat thrillers. Bollywood, on the other hand, modifies these films into pale, center-of-the-seat melodramatic love stories. This is exactly what happens here. Mohit Suri rips off the impacting thriller elements scene-by-scene, dialogue-by-dialogue. Then he adds unnecessary love stories to dilute that impact, and deludes himself into thinking that nobody would be able to recognize the original film.
This “brand new” film is about a “villain” who is hunting for another “villain”, who killed the first villain’s wife, who was trying to make the first villain a hero against his wish. All the while, the second villain wants nothing more than to be a hero in the eyes of his wife, and achieve that, he does the above-mentioned villainous deeds. The key word here is “villain”, a word that is spoken about 2 dozen times throughout the film to impress upon you how different this film is by having no heroes.
The first villain is Sidharth Malhotra, a former goon who is transformed by love. In the original film, this character was a secret agent, which made his descent into maddening thirst for vengeance all the more compelling. Changing him into a goon on the mend could’ve worked too, if it were done to give the character different dimensions rather than to tell a love story in flashbacks. A better actor might’ve still done justice to this role, brought depth to it, but Sidharth Malhotra looks as out of depth as ever. He looks the part of a goon, with the stubble and the tattoos, but he just cannot act, even if there were a gun to his head. He isn’t able to emote the myriad of emotions that his character is going through: sorrow, anger, loss, bloodlust, guilt. Even in the action scenes, he just looks tired, lethargic, downright lazy.
Shraddha Kapoor plays his lover, who is dying of some disease whose name is never mentioned throughout the film. Maybe the director didn’t want to burden us with that knowledge. Or maybe he didn’t want to be biased and choose one disease over the other. This character is uncharted territory for the director, since the original film never expanded on the love story of the 2 leads. And this is easily the worst part of the film. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Shraddha Kapoor. She’s beautiful, cute and charming all at the same time, but she is irritating as fuck in this film. Her character is incessantly whining about something or the other, mouthing Mother Teresa-type dialogues about love and forgiveness, or simply cracking annoying jokes.
Star of the show is, without a shadow of a doubt, Riteish Deshmukh. He is saddled with the toughest role and weird colored eye lenses, but he pulls it off despite all odds. While the villain’s motive was never explained in “I Saw The Devil”, the director gives the villain a lot more meat here. While it takes away the mystery and devilish streak from the character and humanizes him, it does give us a peek into his psyche, which makes for interesting viewing. I always felt that Riteish Deshmukh had the range of a better actor than he is thought to be by others, and he proves me right by giving a stellar performance. He goes from menacing to innocent in the blink of an eye.
Despite all of the director’s misgivings, the movie still remains periodically compelling in scenes that are faithful to the original film. The good music adds value to the film, while Riteish Deshmukh holds the film together with his histrionics. Apart from the climax, any other changes made are for the worse. I would recommend for you to watch the original South Korean film. But if not, rest assured, Ek Villain is not the worst piece of cinema you’ll watch all year.
©Piyush Chopra for PosterGully.com