It’s a bad sign when the words “The Beginning” appear on screen at the end of a movie, just before the closing credits roll. If this is only “the beginning,” what was I watching for the last two hours? It’s a cop-out.
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (“One of Me and One of You”) ends with “The Beginning.” It’s disappointing because the first 95% of the movie is really, really good. I enjoyed myself so much while watching it that the lame way the story concludes made it feel like I had the rug pulled out from under me.
Let me focus on the good first, which is nearly every part of the movie. The protagonist in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET, henceforth) is Rahul (Imran Khan), the average son of snobby parents who routinely make it clear that he is a disappointment. When he loses his job at a Las Vegas architecture firm, he elects not to tell them.
Rahul meets fun-loving Riana (Kareena Kapoor), a similarly unemployed hairstylist. Since they are both alone on Christmas Eve, Rahul reluctantly agrees to let Riana take him out on the town. They get drunk and get married.
The next morning, they amicably agree to get their marriage annulled. Again reluctantly, Rahul lets broke, disorganized Riana stay in his meticulously clean apartment. Friendship blossoms as Rahul finally finds in Riana someone who does not think he’s a failure.
There’s little conflict in Rahul and Riana’s relationship, but that’s a good thing. They are both nice people, their only faults being that Rahul is overly fearful of making mistakes and Riana a bit oblivious to her more annoying habits. From Raina, Rahul gets the validation he’s never gotten from his parents, and Raina is happy to make him happy.
Khan and Kapoor are completely charming and succeed in making Rahul and Riana realistic characters. Their restraint adds to the movie’s humor: Khan gets more laughs out of a single raised eyebrow than any of the frantic, screaming characters in the Housefull 2 promo that preceded EMAET. Debutant director Shakun Batra gets the tone exactly right for a romantic comedy.
As much as I appreciate a movie that resists the urge to force conflict into a story, about three-fourths of the way into EMAET, I started to wonder, “What’s the catch?” Rahul and Raina can’t just stroll into their happily ever after, can they? Is she hiding something? Will he compromise his new self-confidence to placate his parents?
When the hiccup in Rahul & Riana’s otherwise perfect relationship finally arises, it does so without enough time left in the film to adequately deal with it. Hence “The Beginning.” It’s a profoundly unsatisfying conclusion, especially since all of the signs pointed to the adorable couple getting their tidy “happily ever after.”
I admire filmmakers who take risks with their storytelling — though audiences do have certain expectations of rom-coms released in time for Valentine’s Day — but the risks have to feel warranted. The ultimate resolution to Rahul & Riana’s story feels unrealistic and unfair. I wanted a better ending for characters I’d come to like so much.