Do efficient story writers make efficient story tellers? Not always!
Thanks to the hype surrounding the film as also the fact that the real-life father and son duo of Feroz Khan and Fardeen Khan have been teamed yet again, expectations from EK KHILADI EK HASEENA run sky-high. But never judge a book by its cover... and a film by its promos. For, looks can be quite deceptive!
Inspired by two Hollywood films, CONFIDENCE [2003; Edward J. Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman] and HOUSE OF GAMES [1987; Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna], the problem with EK KHILADI EK HASEENA clearly lies in the fact that the concept is too western for Indian audiences. For an average Indian moviegoer, who has fixed ideas when it comes to big-screen entertainment, EK KHILADI EK HASEENA has the soul of an English film in the body of a Hindi flick.
No doubt, EK KHILADI EK HASEENA charters a new path where every character is out to con the other, but the film lacks the grip to keep you on the razor's edge. And, most importantly, the impact a thriller ought to make is clearly missing at the end of the day.
Yet, there's no denying that writer Suparn Verma's directorial debut is, technically speaking, a notch above the ordinary. Verma gives the film an upmarket look, but he ought to know by now that it's the content that does the talking, not the visual appeal!
Arjun [Fardeen Khan] and his buddy Rohit [Rohit Roy] want to attain riches by taking an easy route: Con jobs. But their latest stunt changes their lives forever. They con the accountant of an underworld don, Sikander [Gulshan Grover], of Rs. 75,000. Later, Rohit is murdered, while Arjun escapes to another city.
Sikander traces Arjun and warns him to shell out Rs. 4 lacs now [the capital amount of Rs. 75,000, plus the interest], or else face his wrath. Sikander's henchman Kaif [Kay Kay] is instructed to follow Arjun like a shadow.
While Arjun decides to continue with his act of conning people to raise the amount, a psychiatrist, Natasha [Koena Mitra], enters his life. She is fascinated by Arjun's con games and decides to be a part of the group [Fardeen, Kay Kay, Mukul Dev, Amin Hajee]. While carrying out one such act, she accidentally shoots a cop [Murli Sharma], who dies on the spot.
Later, Natasha discovers that the group had conned her into parting with her hard-earned money. Natasha is seething with anger, she wants her money back and confronts Arjun at Sikander's den. She also comes up with this idea to make Jehangir Khan [Feroz Khan], the President of Standard Bank, poorer by Rs. 25 crores by conning him.
The group is lured to try their hand at this dangerous game. But is the suave, sharp, intelligent and powerful Jehangir Khan an easy nut to crack?
On paper, the story of EK KHILADI EK HASEENA does sound innovative and interesting. But a film like this is more of an experiment since the viewer has to be extra attentive and follow the story carefully and minutely, or else he wouldn't connect with the sequence of events that are to follow. Clearly, the emphasis is more on mind-games than action. In the process, everything else [songs, romance] takes a backseat, as the goings-on continue to get talk-heavy.
Ideally, the pacing of a thriller has to be just right. The story ought to move at jet-speed, but in this case, the goings-on unfurl at a lethargic pace, more so towards the post-interval portions. Besides, with Feroz Khan entering the story at the intermission point, you expect the drama to get far more engaging in the next hour, but barring a few individualistic sequences, the outcome isn't entrancing.
Being the writer of the enterprise, Verma has handled a few episodes [con acts] in the story well. The sequence at the jewelry showroom, when Fardeen buys a ring for Koena by conning another customer, is interesting. But the entire Standard Bank episode in the second half, when the gang pretends to be I.T. professionals, isn't the type that would find acceptance from an average moviegoer. It's too elitist in nature and more so, the series of incidents that begin with the money transfer, to nabbing Gulshan Grover with drugs, to Koena shooting Fardeen, to Feroz Khan knowing of their plansï¿½, would appeal to a very tiny segment thanks to its Hollywood-like script-building. In fact, the finale gives you the feeling of dï¿½jï¿½ vu as it is similar in approach [not content] as THE SIXTH SENSE.
Another area where the Indian moviegoer would feel letdown is that you expect the real-life father and son duo to have some fiery scenes like in their previous film JANASHEEN. But their sole sequence in the film -- in the elevator -- isn't fiery at all. Even the fire in their dialogues is missing.
As the writer plus director of the enterprise, Suparn Verma has chosen a script that has its limitations, but as a technician, he knows how to make the frames look visually appealing. Music [Pritam] is foot-tapping and most importantly, the songs have struck a chord with listeners as well. However, the song that is sure to be the topic of discussion in days to come is the one that's filmed on Fardeen and Koena as the couple makes love in a hotel room. Erotic is, perhaps, too mild a word to describe this number. Cinematography [Manoj Soni] is excellent. The film bears an upmarket look all through.
In a brief role, Feroz Khan is his elegant self. But the veteran's fans are sure to feel disappointed since the length of the role as well as the meat in the character isn't fulfilling enough. Fardeen Khan tries to get into the skin of the character and manages to live his part at times.
Koena Mitra looks sultry, has no inhibitions when it comes to flaunting her sex appeal and her styling is perfect. As an actor, while she needs to loosen up a bit, she does manage to make her presence felt in a couple of sequences. The film has a number of characters, but it's Kay Kay who's most efficient. The actor delivers a flawless performance yet again.
Gulshan Grover is first-rate, essaying the part of a cold-blooded person to perfection. Mukul Dev is alright, while Rohit Roy is likeable in a brief role. Sharad Kapoor doesn't get much scope. Ditto for Makrand Deshpande, who is wasted. Murli Sharma, Amin Hajee and Dayashanker Pandey are adequate.
On the whole, EK KHILADI EK HASEENA is too western a flick to find patronage from the Indian audiences. At the box-office, however, the film has two factors going in its favor: Its moderate pricing and the release strategy of flooding the market with a good number of prints. This, in turn, would only ensure a quick recovery for its investors.