There is a scene in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu where Rianna leads Rahul down a memory (staircase) lane in her school and tells him about her first kiss just the way a girl and boy share memorable trivia that makes them who they are. Rahul leans forward in anticipation of his first kiss and she moves back and asks him perplexed, “yeh kya tha, Rahul?” The scene sums up the theme of story. The thin line between friendship and love. Can friendship turn into love or more interestingly vice versa?
Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) is a 25 year old architect and lives in a plush place at Vegas. But that’s not Rahul Khanna. That’s the man his parents have forced him to be. His mother is a rich socialite (Ratna Pathak) who decides his hairstyles and reminds him to chew his food 32 times and his father (Boman Irani) is a successful tyrant who decides the colour of his ties knots them around Rahul’s neck like a noose and reminds him he is never good enough. Having grown up in suffocating spaces of luxury cars sandwiched between controlling parents deciding his life, contradicting each other, Rahul has no identity. Who is he now that he has just lost his job?
He is a tight arse, walks around like a stiff pole, has innocence in his wide eyes, sits carefully, irons his underwear, is a virgin, a boring lost soul and secretly visits a therapist. Here he meets his unlikely saviour, Rianna Braganza. The endearing cheerful jobless hair stylist who gives him a haircut that definitely doesn’t meet his mother’s approval. A free soul, broke and shunted out of her rented place yet full of beans. She also visits a psychiatrist because she has a history of several relationships and wants to stay single for a change. She is multitalented, a hairstylist who could have been a ballet dancer if not for an accident and can be an architect if she wants. She is at the same time a “defective piece” with two broken teeth. She can be anything she wants and doesn’t need her parents’ permission. He is not good enough. She is too good. A 10 on 10.She is the person who tells Rahul that she likes him purely because he is so “perfectly average”, just the way he is. She is the person that Rahul wants to be. Just the right reason to fall in love.
Material for a light,popcorn,cliché romance, you would think. The two will fall in love, you think, sing songs, get drunk, fight, make up and live happily after. Not quite. And here is where the writing gets good, the story where nothing happens, gets interesting. The two meet, get so drunk that they get married overnight at a Vegas chapel, wake up and decide to get the marriage annulled, live together for 14 days and Rahul simply grows up. There is no melodrama, not even drama, just a conversation between two people who spend a good time together, meet each other’s families and come close the way friends do,a slice of life experience.
It’s great to see quirky characters finally being explored in Hindi cinema, in freshly treated script by Shakun Batra and Ayesha Devitre. Probably a Woody Allen influence on the director, Shakun Batra who shows a subtle sensibility. There are a few moments like the dining table scene where Imran delivers an excellent performance of angry outburst, ending at just the right note of funny exasperation with Ratna Pathak’s well written line of parental deaf stance.. “lekin chopsticks mein kya kharaabi hai?”
It would have been interesting to explore Rianna’s past pattern of flitting from one relationship to another and the present need and desire to be single. But the script focuses mainly on Rahul.Both Kareena and Imran pull off a seemingly simple chemistry, really well. The film has a deliberate almost flat narrative style which could have been tweaked a bit with more spice in lines perhaps. The subtlety is nice up to a point but if it had added just a bit of Karan Johar’s panache for getting the tear ducts filling up, it would have come close to a wholesome Hindi neo Bollywood film.
Music by Amit Trivedi (‘Auntyjee’ specially) and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya (‘Teri Aahatien’), like the film, make you smile and hum like a soft passing breeze.
It’s okay to be just okay, just average. This thought and premise itself is a good reason to watch a film.
What’s also interesting is that Karan Johar who started with movies that stated it’s all about loving your parents, now has a film under his banner that says it’s all about coming out of your parents’ shadows. A reflection of not just his movies but the times that we live in. Time was when there was character called Majnu or Devdas and men actually loved to emulate them or glorify them as symbol of true love. Then came a time when stories debated if a man and woman could be friends and most voted against it, most happily too. Today, even more happily there is no sad connotation of love unrequited. And what a relief that is. Here is a story with a nice combination of friendship and love and a well rounded perspective to love that does not need to be taken seriously.
You come out smiling with a feel good factor that soon wears off like a nice sweet smelling perfume which you wish had a stronger, lingering presence...You will enjoy it as long as you go in minus the rose tinted lenses or frames as shown in the catchy poster.