Readers of this blog often ask “Why don’t you ever review movies you like?” Or the variant” Do you always watch a movie so that you can hate it?”.
Well, I actually do enjoy quite a few movies and review them on this blog.
Of course when I do, I end up hearing “What? You liked this crap and not <insert his/her favorite movie> here (Usually “Rockstar” or “Rang De Basanti” or “Delhi 6”)? And that too has its variant “I had come here expecting you to skewer <insert movie-name>. Such a mild review. Not upto your mark.” As if I am obliged to be trenchant about anything I see, even though I may have…errr…enjoyed it.
Quite a conundrum.
So today, let me talk about something I liked. Actually quite a lot. “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu”.
“Ek ladka ladki kabhi dost nahin ban sakte; yeh to ek bahana hai kapkapati raton mein dhadakte hue dilon ki bhadakti hui aag ko chhupaane ka”, the great Monish Behl had once said (or was it Dhoble?) in “Maine Pyar Kiya”, displaying not only a capacity for parachesis, but also of immense perceptiveness, at least as far as Hindi movies go. No matter if you wore a cap that said “Friend”. No matter that you show great chemistry (Band Bajaa Baraat) as friends. Dillagi always had to give hawaa, and dosti had to covert to mutually-felt pyaar. The script-writers always made sure of it.
Rarely however do our films show friendship developing into an asymmetric kind of love on film, even though it happens quite often in real life.
In “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” only one side (Imran Khan character) falls in love, the other side (the Kareena Kapoor character) does not, the one who does blames the other for leading him on, they resolve their issues, the love still remains unrequited even though they maintain their close relationship. And before you say “Wait, how is this different from 500 Days of Summer”, let me point out one crucial difference. In that movie, the friendship is shown to dissolve when one of them discovers true love. In “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu”, the friendship remains intact, which, in my opinion, is a infinitely more mature and satisfying resolution.
Resolution. That’s the other way “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” differs from “500 Days of Summer” . In the latter, the hero is given a quasi-happy-ending in the form of a girl called “Autumn” he meets in the end, a device somewhat reminiscent of Shahrukh Khan meeting Juhi Chawla at the conclusion of “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na”.
Audiences love clean-cut resolutions. The hero and heroine need to find love in this life (Too many examples of this) or in death (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak) or affirm their nobility through a supreme sacrifice (“Bridges of Madison County”) . A more ambivalent ending like “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu”‘s where the audience does not get the comfort of a resolution of the protagonists’s romantic fate is rare and hence more poignant and memorable.
But most of all, I liked “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” for the way they develop Imran Khan’s character. In a sequence which I felt was the highlight of the film, the hero rues how mediocre he is in everything, despite his best attempts. What is surprising is that unlike what usually happens, Imran Khan stays average right till the end. He does not “rise” in love like Shahid Kapoor in “Jab We Met”, becoming super-successful in business by selling a calling-card in the name of his lady-love. He does not discover the champion in himself like in “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”. Nor does he become a super-photographer like engineering-misfit Madhavan in “Three Idiots”.
I have always found disappointing how popular entertainment saps out normalcy from its characters leaving behind dull shells of perfection. Even in “Taare Zameen Par” which was ostensibly about how every child is special in his/her own way, the dyslexic child has to win the competition in the end. If he had just come say 6th, it somehow would not have conveyed the fact that he is a “winner”.
Given these sorry precedents, I was heartened to see that the makers of “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” do not force a “success”, be it in terms of the hero getting the girl or him learning photography (his dream was to be a photographer) or becoming a super architect (the movie ends him with him working in an average firm).By not trying to validate the hero’s heroism through a rather restrictive definition of achievement, they thus firmly establish the character’s humanity, making “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” quite a bit different from the run-of-the-mill eye-candy that such genre flicks inevitably become.