It is hard to tell who the real villain is in Ek Villain – is it the hot and happening Guru with more than a touch of 50 shades of grey about him or is it the screenwriter who makes a hot mess of some wonderful thrills, action set pieces and a rather angsty original soundtrack (that would be criminal to film in anything but lingering slow motion)? Because, inside Ek Villain is a great story which emerges from time to time and grabs the viewer by the throat with no intention of letting go.
But I couldn’t get past the clumsy “mansplaining” of why those men (or villains) who treat all women in a cruel and inhumane manner; with any semblance of balance or reason thrown out of the window (oops – spoiler alert), the film declares why these “poor” men are driven to such unacceptable behaviour…women themselves(!) So we have a average joe who gets brow beaten by women in the office, on the train, on the street – which makes it OK for him to respond in a most sinister fashion. However, don’t worry y’all – he won’t hurt his wife as he is love with her but all other women with opinions are game. Furthermore (and worryingly), there is no outright condemnation of this horrific misogyny– instead, this villain just happens to pick the wrong victim and one gets the sense he would get away with it in any other context – #coincidence. Whilst I am all about accepting creative liberties, especially for an outright entertainer, Ek Villain struck the wrong chord on this front and for me, ultimately overshadowed what is a quintessential masala blockbuster.
Performance wise, Kapoor appears a little forced at times – she is most natural (and likeable) when she under acts but she is by no means bad. Deshmukh tries something different and hits a note of intensity by chance before speeding directly to hamsville , losing control of his
bowels performance and never getting it back. Thank god then for Malhotra who is the lynchpin that holds everything together. I liked how he fully tried to inhabit the character both physically and mentally. Intense, broody and smartly underplayed, Malhotra shows good form as an action hero and steals every scene that he is in.
A shame then that Ek Villain is let down by a poor script and conceptual issues – when this film is good, it is watchable and whilst there are enough entertaining moments here to power Ek Villain from start to finish, those who take their brains along may find some unintentional hilarity and then some very awkward moralizing served as an unordered side dish. Still, not quite a write off – watch as a showreel for Siddharth who is going from strength to strength as a hero and emerging as one to watch…