Film: Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu
Director: Shakun Batra
Cast: Imran Khan, Kareena Kapoor
"You are perfectly average," she tells him. "And that's the best thing about you."
He's happy. It's something he's been yearning for - a friendly pat on the back; reassurance. And he gets it from her. “I’m perfectly average,” he repeats with a smile on his face. “That actually makes me feel good.”
Director Shakun Batra shows rare deftness for a first-time filmmaker in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET). It is full of honest, warm moments that - to their credit - work without the manipulation most directors resort to in films belonging to this genre. Instead, Batra relies on sharp dialogue, and some well-etched out characters. I’d go a step further and say that the film is the best you would have seen recently in the two genres it melds together - a romantic comedy and a coming-of-age-drama, something Wake Up Sid just about fell short of.
Sure, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu gives you an “I-have-seen-this-before” kind of a feeling. I found traces of Jab We Met, a bit of What Happens In Vegas, some Hangover, some Friends, even 500 Days of Summer, spattered throughout the film.
Yet, Batra manages to retain an original voice as filmmaker, largely due to a more personal style of storytelling and treatment. It’s interesting, most young filmmakers dabbling with romance seem to be poor clones of Karan Johar, the film’s producer, who spearheaded the new-age romance mantra in Hindi cinema. Batra, however, manages to hold his own.
You know the plot: Rahul Kapoor (Imran) is a 25-year-old architect, Riana Braganza (Kareena) an almost-27-year-old hair stylist. The two meet over a chance encounter in Las Vegas, resulting in a night of drunken revelry and the two getting married at a Vegas chapel. Annulment, hence, is the next step. The two have to wait 14 days before the annulment comes through and the film charts their relationship over those two weeks.
Each day comes with a heading - Day 5 is ‘I am Wild’, for example, about a hilarious encounter Rahul has with a horny Indian girl his parents want him to get married to. Day 10 is ‘India’. EMAET’s best scenes come post-interval ("the second half," as they say in Bollywood parlance), where Rahul meets Riana’s madcap family in Mumbai. He feels at home with absolute strangers, only because his own parents always breathed down his neck in their pursuit for excellence.
Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah play a couple that want their child to grow up in a certain way - Irani a demanding father who expects nothing but the best from his child; Shah, on the other hand, too vain to want to ever think about what either father or son want. The two actors bring weight to their roles, each of them a treat to watch. Also well-cast are Riana’s family members. Nikhil Kapoor as Riana’s father is absolutely adorable.
But EMAET really works for its two lead stars - Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor. I am astonished at how good Khan is in a role that seems tailor-made for him; you can’t imagine another actor in the role. He was lovable in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, only because there too he fit the character to the T. After some terrible performances in Kidnap and Luck, Khan has been mostly patchy in rom-coms like I Hate Luv Storys and Break Ke Baad. In EMAET, though, he hits all the right notes, the credit for which largely goes to Batra and co-writer Ayesha Devitre. He’s a limited actor, but the film shows that his chocolate boy, innocent looks and an honest approach to his roles can be used to good effect if the director knows his job.
Kareena, of course, is the lifeline of the film. Ravishingly beautiful, lovable and zestful, Kareena finally gets a role to sink her teeth into after playing doll to the Khans in films like Bodyguard and RA.One. The role has traces of Geet from Jab We Met, but Riana is a wilder, yet softer character. The two lead actors hold the film together with their wit and charm, their chemistry sparkling, especially in the supremely enjoyable ‘Auntyji’ song. Amit Trivedi gives another great score that works well for the film.
In look and style, the film is like any Hollywoood romcom and David MacDonald’s cinematography captures Vegas beautifully. Asif Ali Shaikh’s editing keeps the proceedings sharp and the film’s production values lend it grandeur without it being too overpowering.
All in all, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is a delightful film that keeps getting better along the way, and ends fabulously. Clocking under two hours, the film is a breezy watch that will leave you with a smile. Highly recommended.