Direction: Mohit Suri
Actors: Sidharth Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh
It is as true of chefs as of filmmakers: Even when you're being experimental, throwing ingredients together to make something new, you need a sense of what goes with what.
In Ek Villain, director Mohit Suri takes slices from a variety of genres - romance, crime, murder, revenge, all of which he's dabbled in previous films, with varying degrees of success - and tosses them in the blender. The result resembles one of those slushy green smoothies, where no one element stands out and the overall flavour is, at best, unpleasant.
Read review: Riteish Deshmukh is the hero in Ek Villain
Some of the ingredients are actually decent - there's a well-executed domestic squabble, and some good action sequences. But in the overall blend, they leave no real impression.
Suri doesn't just borrow elements; he borrows actors from previous works too, and evidently gives them the same brief as before. So you have Shraddha Kapoor (as Aisha) playing the love interest with a knack for picking broken/depressed men and then trying to fix them (remember Aashiqui 2). This might have worked, had Kapoor's emoting range extended beyond that of a talking doll. But she runs through her lines monotonously, like an actor in a school play who remembered the script but forgot to actually act.
Also read: Ek Villain and its five shades of grey
A tragedy, right at the outset, sets the ball rolling. A revenge story follows, with angry young man Guru (Sidharth Malhotra) trying to mete out punishment to the titular villain. A story of this sort requires pace and focus -- incessant flashbacks ensure that it has neither.
Surprisingly, the film has no mystery either. No effort is made to hide the identity of psychotic serial-killer Rakesh (Riteish Deshmukh), either from the audience or the protagonist. With what should perhaps have been a climactic meeting occurring instead before the interval, the story is stretched thin for the rest of the two hours, with flashbacks used as fillers, more fight sequences, and a serious dearth of new ideas.
The lead actor, too, seems confused about the director's vision (or lack thereof). He plays the stubbled, tattooed bad boy with a standard scowling expression, irrespective of whether he's exchanging kisses or kicks. Which is a shame, because Sidharth's brooding demeanour would have been apt for the thriller that the trailer somehow promised.
Rakesh, then, is the only engaging character. He's convincing as the doormat-like husband who is thrown out of the house by his wife and exacts misdirected revenge on other women, killing them and collecting their belongings as presents for her. He may not be original - think Chip (Jim Carrey) from The Cable Guy. As the inconspicuous telephone repairman, he may also be a younger version of contract killer Bob Biswas from Kahaani. Yet it's tremendously refreshing to see Riteish in this role, a departure from the slapstick he usually chooses to do.
If the film had just focused on him, it might even have amounted to something. Unfortunately, it is crippled by a plot that ranges from the mediocre to the bizarre, including a leitmotif of smileys drawn on balloons, masks and even on frosted car windows. A sign of lurking evil? An ode to the Comedian's badge from The Watchmen? Who knows? You can never tell in those green smoothies, can you?