“Sachin, you’re such a selfish jerk.” This is told to the main character by his best friend, and it is the core problem in a movie full of problems. The hero of the romance Ekk Deewana Tha (“There Was a Crazy Guy“) is such an odious bastard that it’s frustrating to see him rewarded with his obligatory happy ending.
The film sets itself up as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet romance between a pair of star-crossed lovers: a Hindu guy and a Christian girl. Religious differences ultimately play little part in the film except as an excuse for her father to object to the marriage (the guy’s parents don’t care). There are plenty of other, better reasons for her parents to object, namely that the guy is a possessive whack-job.
Sachin — the above mentioned “selfish jerk” — is a 22-year-old Hindu, played by a perpetually flustered Prateik. The Christian girl is Jessie (Amy Jackson), a 23-year-old financial analyst who talks during movies. Sachin sees Jessie, falls immediately in love (lust, actually), and sets about wooing her. He isn’t put off by the potential objections of her parents on religious grounds, although he is really bothered by the fact that she’s a year older than him. Huh?
He’s also not put off by the fact that she’s not interested in him. Sachin waits outside their shared apartment complex for Jessie, follows her to work, even travels across the country to see her, despite her protests to leave her alone. On their train journey back to Mumbai from Kerela, he ignores his pledge to just be friends and forcefully kisses her as she tries to push him away.
Sachin offers this defense when Jessie gets upset over his unwanted physical contact: “We were friends, but then I saw you, and I forgot about it.”
Sachin’s feelings of lust for Jessie convince him that they are a sign of his destiny. Because he feels urges, it is divine will that they be satisfied. If Jessie objects, it’s just because he hasn’t sufficiently convinced her that his understanding of the cosmic order is the correct one.
That’s not the logic of a romantic hero. That’s the logic of a rapist.
Furthering the insult to women everywhere, Jessie eventually confesses that her protestations were really her way of masking the true love she instantly felt for Sachin. Take heart, spurned lovers! When a woman says, “No!”, she really means, “Yes! I love you!”
The pain of being subjected to the archaic attitudes toward women in Ekk Deewana Tha is compounded by the fact that the film is mind-numbingly boring for all of its 137 minutes. When not being sexist and offensive, the movie spends its time being long-winded and banal, as Sachin and Jessie talk about how much she likes math and how many movies she’s seen. Listening to them was more like being forced to overhear boring restaurant conversation from a nearby table than witnessing dialogue written by a professional screenwriter.
A strong background knowledge of Bollywood is required to understand the endless, pointless movie references in Ekk Deewana Tha. Likewise, references to language differences between Hindi and Malayalam are lost on English speakers reliant upon subtitles. McDonald’s and Gloria Jeans product placements aside, this is not a film made for an audience outside of India, and Indian audiences deserve better than this.