A hero. A heroine. And a villain. That's the standard template Bollywood has been using for decades now. Very infrequently do you come across a film that creates undeniable curiosity for the antagonist. Mohit Suri's EK VILLAIN is one of those rare films.
The attention-grabbing trailers and the mesmerizing soundtrack have generated substantial curiosity for the film. So much so that the know-alls are drawing parallels with the Korean thriller I SAW THE DEVIL . The grapevine gains credibility because the two films -- the Korean as well as EK VILLAIN -- focus on the serial killer and how the male protagonist, whose life has overturned due to a distressing occurrence, courtesy the serial killer, gets even with the antagonist. The resemblance ends there.
The similarities apart, EK VILLAIN charters a novel route completely. The characters, the reason that compel a simpleton to slip into the robes of a serial killer, the clash between the good versus evil factions are dissimilar when compared to the Korean film. So, there!
Let's enlighten you about the premise, before we proceed further! Guru [Sidharth Malhotra] is a quiet, tough and ruthless guy working for a gangster [Remo Fernandes] in Goa. A dark past continues to haunt Guru, until he meets Aisha [Shraddha Kapoor]. He falls in love with her and subsequently marries her.
Guru quits his job and moves from Goa to Mumbai to make a new beginning with Aisha. Just when things seem perfect, she falls prey to an attack...
Devastated, Guru starts hunting the miscreant and is shocked to learn of his seemingly innocuous and unpretentious identity. Something is amiss and Guru is unable to place a finger on the precise problem. What is the assailant's motive?
Instead of narrating the tale in a linear fashion, Mohit Suri uses an altogether different mode this time -- reverse narration -- whereby the story unfolds after the catastrophe has occurred. The tender moments between the lovers, the upheaval in their lives caused by the antagonist, the twisted game of cat and mouse and the thrilling twist in the finale... Mohit has a knack of narrating stories with flourish and the tale he sets out to narrate in EK VILLAIN keeps you on your toes all through.
Mohit makes EK VILLAIN an enthralling experience, no two opinions on that. Although a number of movies have focused on serial killers, the talented raconteur along with screenplay writer Tushar Hiranandani [also the creative director of the film] makes sure they pack several remarkable twists that transcend the genre, making it a novel experience for the spectator. The undercurrent of tension and the violent crimes are intertwined skillfully with the affectionate moments between the lovers and the emotional turmoil that the protagonist goes through. The writing, in short, keeps you captivated right through the finale, which, again, is not of the run of the mill variety. As a matter of fact, the clash between the good and the evil towards the concluding stages is the icing on the cake.
Mohit's movies are intensely violent, most of the times, and EK VILLAIN follows the same format. Given the nature of the subject, Mohit keeps the proceedings dark, but not repulsive. At the same time, the ruthlessness of the antagonist is depicted minus blood, gore and explicit visuals.
One has come to expect a winning soundtrack from Mohit in film after film and the music of EK VILLAIN lives up to the gargantuan expectations. This being his first movie outside of Vishesh Films, a production house synonymous with chartbusters, it's imperative that Mohit scores on this front as well and score he does. 'Galliyan', 'Banjaara', 'Zaroorat' and 'Awari' -- each of the tracks is soulful and reverberate in your memory even after the screening has concluded.
Dialogue [Milap Milan Zaveri] is another highpoint of the enterprise, garnishing the well penned and well executed sequences with flourish. In fact, Milap, who is known for witty and double entendres, surprises you with punch-packed lines that decorate the sequences wonderfully. Cinematography [DoP: Vishnu Rao] captures the vision of the storyteller on celluloid to perfection. While the film is visually rich, the underwater sequences stay in your memory. The action sequences, thankfully, are not overdone and balanced neatly in the proceedings. Background music [Raju Singh] is superb.
After repeatedly being cast in fun-loving/naughty parts in film after film, Riteish Deshmukh gambles with a dark, intense, sadistic character in EK VILLAIN. It's a radical shift from what he has portrayed thus far and I must add, the actor carries off the unpretentious, sinister streak with brilliance. A middle class man who's fighting his inner demons, you take to the performance all the more because Riteish manages to keep it fine-drawn and plausible.
Sidharth Malhotra is an absolute revelation, catching you with complete surprise as he handles several complicated moments with exceptional understanding. Recall the portions that portray him simmering with pent up anger. This must've been a challenging character to interpret, since the actor gets to portray varied shades and as he gets into the groove, you realize that the three-film-old actor has finally come of age.
Shraddha Kapoor, the catalyst who moves the story forward, looks dew-fresh and manages to add so much to every sequence she features in. Again, the part she gets to portray is not of the run-of-the-mill variety or ornamental in the scheme of things, for she has to move the story frontward. Post AASHIQUI-2, this is yet another performance that's sure to multiply her fan-following.
Mohit uses the supporting cast most appropriately. Aamna Shariff is in super form as the nagging wife. Her sequences with Riteish are first-rate. Shaad Randhawa is top notch. The coolness with which he carries off his part is sure to catch your eye. Kamaal R. Khan springs a pleasant surprise. He gets to reprise a character that's sure to be an instant hit with his fans. Remo Fernandes handles his part very well. Asif Basra is perfect. Prachi Desai sizzles in the song 'Awari'.
On the whole, EK VILLAIN is a stylish, spellbinding and terrifying edge-of-the-seat thriller. It's a step forward in this genre, without doubt. A sure-shot winner!