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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Ek Villain Returns, Review: V for Villain, Q for Qiran

Ek Villain Returns, Review: V for Villain, Q for Qiran

What do you call a serial killer? An Assistant Commissioner of Police, at a public forum, shows a picture of Rakesh Mahadkar, the serial killer in Ek Villain (2014), calls him “A “Villain,” as if Archimedes’ spirit has entered his body and he actually wanted to say “Eureka!” That does not mean that the new serial killer will get caught in the next few seconds. No way. It will be six months before he is even identified, and by that time it will be found that there are not one but two or three or four villains. It is almost as if Ek (One) Villain Returns, and multiplies himself, to confound both the police and the audiences. The original Ek Villain (2014) had to be re-titled The Villain because the title Ek Villain had been taken. The ‘sequel’ is not a continuation of the story, and will not be a continuation of its predecessor’s substantial success.

The film begins with psychedelic lighting and cutting of a few girls jamming up, while Aarvi sits and broods in another room. Suddenly, the lights go out and there are loud noises of things breaking. And then there appears a person with a smiley mask and a large hammer. A delinquent with brute strength, Gautam Mehra is a billionaire’s son (apparently, only child) who is ditched by his girl-friend, Siya. Enraged, he goes and wrecks her marriage, beating up almost everybody black and blue and smashing property worth lakhs. His father, who has had enough of him, asks him to stop this behavior, while their ‘fixer’ employee Thapar offers to fix everything by offering monetary compensation to the victims. Suddenly, a video goes viral and is shown on a TV channel, documenting the entire episode, which Mehra, Gautam and Thapar watch. Thapar finds out that it has been uploaded by a singer called Aarvi Malhotra, who is participating in a talent hunt.

Gautam goes down to meet her, and develops a love-hate relationship with Aarvi. Initially, he helps her by terrorising her nearest rival and front-runner, Qiran, into withdrawing from the contest, but later leaks a video about her private life, which she had just shared only with him. However, Aarvi is mysteriously murdered by a serial killer, and the cops consider Gautam the prime suspect, but ACP V. K. Ganesan suspects a private cab driver, named Bhairav Purohit, who has a massive crush on Rasika Mapuskar, a salesgirl in an apparel store, to be the serial killer. One day, Bhairav is brought to the police station, and questioned. He admits to having once knocked down two motorcycle riders with his speeding taxi, but denies any knowledge of any other incident or killing. With no evidence, he is set free.

Penning the story with Aseem Arrora is director Mohit Suri himself, while the dialogues are written by Aseem alone. Ek Villain Returns is several movies in one, but disjointed, not conjoint, parallel, not converging. A weak attempt is made to tie up the loose ends towards the loose end, but it remains loose. No explanation is offered about the Superman like strength of Bhairav, and his miniature, Gautam, who, actually, is a bunch of kilos heavier. The two scale bridges and residential towers, dangle on fire hoses and bend iron bars, as if all this is in a day’s work for them. Bhairav drives a taxi by day and works at a private zoo at night. The cab belongs to the owner of the zoo, Keshav, who brings in girls for physical pleasure, via Facebook, at the zoo, and...! A private zoo in Mumbai, which has man-eating tigers caged? That’s a new one. The location, though, is given as Byculla, where the Municipal zoo is located.

There is a protracted fight in a metro train, which includes one of the adversaries dangling out of the compartment, and there is nobody else on the train, nor do the duellists pass any point where there is sign of human presence. After a major exchange of blows and hurls, the man dangling outside the compartment, just jumps down on to a truck, which promptly takes him to his parked vehicle, to get in and drive away. I can see 007 blushing. A billionaire is sued by his son for his share of the property and business, after the father disowns the son. Amazingly, in an out of court settlement, everything goes to the son. All the father is left is a piece of dialogue, which says that he has not lost, because in love, there can be no defeat, and he loves his son. One line that is likely to go around, is what Gautam repeats 4-5 times in the film, “I can accept death, but not defeat.” Aarvi is declared murdered by a serial killer, but there is no body.

A look at Mohit Suri’s filmography show us that negative or dark elements fascinate him. Here are some of the titles: Zeher (Poison), Kalyug (Dark Age), Raaz: The Mystery Continues, Crook, Murder 2, Ek Villain, Malang        (another crime film), Ek Villain Returns, and coming up is Malang 2. So, he is at home in this genre. Look-wise, the film is very impressive – the action, the angles, the pace, the cutting, the sensuality – are all high class. Awesome and scintillating are the words that come to mind when we watch the scenes at the singing reality show.

But there are loopholes galore in the film. Q for Qiran, which is normally spelt Kiran, sounds like a good joke, till she and Gautam get into mimicking ShahRukh Khan, who owns the word, “K..k..k..Kiran.” A basic liberty that Mohit takes, inspired by Fight Club (1999), is questionable, because he uses it, in his own way, in half the film, while the character is physically present in the previous half (saying more will be a spoiler). Add to that at least four major flashbacks, and the confusion is confounded. As far as the tiger’s ‘leap of faith’ climax is concerned, it will be a meaty discussion among those who watch the film, and opinions are most likely to be polarised.

Having chosen two actors who are not exactly famous for their emoting skills (Aditya Roy Kapur left the film due to creative differences with Suri), he extracts serviceable performances from them. It would appear that had the censors been a little more liberal, we would have had more skin show and even more simulated love-making. But the UA certificate, with a triangle means that scenes have been cut. How many and how much, we will never know, but I daresay there must have been many. In such cases, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) usually allows a lot to go uncut if the producers agree to take an A certificate. And that would mean cutting out 75% of the teenage audience. I would have gone with A, because the subject is for adults, and 18+ is good enough for this kind of film. But who am I?

Excuse his dialogue delivery and bulk, and you might agree that Arjun Kapoor is not so bad after all. In fact, he turns out to be a good choice for Gautam. Very cleverly, Suri has given John Abraham (Bhairav, what a rare name!) very few lines, but his limitations do surface occasionally, especially towards the climax. But as far as the bod goes, Oh my God goes. And to think that he was 48 when this film was shot. Disha Patani as Rasika Mapuskar goes through a whole array of emotions and moods, and is not found wanting, as is Tara Sutaria as Aarvi Malhotra.

J. D. Chakravarthy as ACP V. K. Ganesan is a complete misfit and editing out his entire role will not make an iota of difference to the film. Oh, for a South Indian, his Hindi is creditable, it’s just that his role is very badly written, and he can do nothing about it. Shaad Ali as a cop is passable. Others in the cast are Karishma Sharma as Siya, Gaurav’s cheating girl-friend, Kaizaad Kotwal as Siya's father, Elena Roxana Maria Fernandes as the buxom, cleavage Queen, Qiran, Ivan Rodrigues as Thapar, Bharat Dabholkar as Mehra (Gautam's father; he does his two scenes with professional ease), Digvijay Rohidas as Keshav (another badly written part), singer Badshah puts in a cameo appearance in a song ‘Shaamat’ and then there is Riteish Deshmukh as Rakesh Mahadkar (in the end credit titles, on a wheel-chair, archived footage from the film Ek Villain), for which he earns the title, “We love Riteish Deshmukh).

Getting behind the screen, cinematography by Vikas Sivaraman is high class, while Devendra Murdeshwar sacrifices continuity at the altar of pace, with the censors pitching in their worth.

Musical score by Raju Singh is commendable. Songs by Ankit Tiwari, Tanishk Bagchi, Kaushik-Guddu are quite unnecessary, though a clear attempt is made to integrate them with the film. Inspired Urdu poetry just does not go with the film. Moreover, the song ‘Shaamat’ goes on and on, and recurs, and on and on. Nevertheless, if it is indeed Tara Sutaria who has sung it with Ankit Tiwari, she is a talent to keep your on.

In the film, Bhairav keeps asking his passengers to give him a rating, when they get off. So now is the time for this reviewer to give the 128-minute ride a rating. Had it not been for the pizzazz and panache which packages the film, it would have ranked much lower. But for once, form has come to the rescue of content. Rescue? Not really.

Rating: **


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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