Two years ago, I watched the much-hyped Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya (VTV) and rolled my eyes at the gimmicky twists. While my expectations from Ekk Deewana Tha were even lower, I find myself searching for adjectives to describe just how underwhelming this meandering love story is.
I don’t understand why Gautham Menon didn’t simply dub VTV in Hindi. For the most part, it apes its Tamil counterpart. Only, the first half goes by too fast to etch out the progress of Sachin’s (Prateik) and Jessie’s (Amy Jackson) relationship, and the second drags on painfully. Both sides of the interval, one wishes they’d cut out a song or three. Oh, there’s an added line in the disclaimer, saying no song was meant to hurt religious sentiments — a nod to the objections raised against Hosanna.
When Kollywood fare heads for Bollywood, the storyline needs alterations, as do the characters. I mean, (a) who waits till their twenties to date in Mumbai? (b) Do people assume they’re going to get married even before they start dating? But, from Sachin’s petulant protest, “sab chalta hai aaj kal”, when Jessie explains that one of the reasons their romance is doomed is that she’s older than he is, to an alaap ringing out when she confesses that she does love him, almost nothing changes — Except, inexplicably, Sachin’s handwriting.
There seems to be some clumsy underlying commentary. When Sachin throws in a few comments about “Madrasis”, his sister becomes the voice of reason, explaining that Keralites and Madrasis are different. But, if Gautham Menon had the noble agenda of registering his protest against stereotyping of South Indians, he undermines it by injecting an uncle who says, “kaana kaavo”, and addresses his guests in a mixture of Malayalam and Hindi, when they can all speak English.
Add to this the ridiculousness of Jessie’s Mumbai-based lawyer father (Babu Antony) not knowing who Amitabh Bachchan is, and Jessie not knowing who Mohanlal is, because, apparently, Syrian Christians don’t watch movies. The family is completed by her brother Jerry, whose superpowers include whipping up a gang of belligerent friends wherever he goes, and Teresa.
For all the rumours about the lead actors dating in real life, their on-screen chemistry is abysmal. In fact, the rapport between Babu Antony and Manu Rishi is far more electric.
I’ve seen Malayali girls who look like Amy Jackson and she carries off a sari rather nicely. But the heavy fake tan, stilted expressions, and awkward attempts to use her hands like Indians tend to, are her undoing. In a film whose nuances, if any, lie in expression and not dialogue, she leaves no impression. Prateik, too, falls into the trap Hrithik Roshan did in Lakshya, playing a sulky character like a schoolboy. He bursts into song every few minutes, and whines the rest of the time, with exaggerated facial contortions
that appear comic.
The verdict: There are way too many twists in the film-within-a-film-within-a-film narrative to make for a coherent watch.