Tag Archives: Sidharth Malhotra

Movie Review: Aiyaary (2018)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

In Aiyaary (“Shapeshifting“), things that require little explanation are belabored, while things that would benefit from being shown onscreen aren’t. The resulting movie is a boring spy thriller sans thrills.

Manoj Bajpayee plays Colonel Abhay Singh, leader of a secret group of Indian military intelligence officers — the kind of covert unit the Indian Army top brass promises to disavow should its existence ever be made public. Abhay’s superior officer even says, “No one will ever know what you did for this country.”

Neither will the audience, because writer-director Neeraj Pandey doesn’t show us what they do, apart from one scene of an unspecified assassination that serves two purposes: to establish Abhay’s remorselessness and to beat to death an unfunny joke about a subordinate packing vitamins instead of ammo.

The team consists of seven other officers, only two of whom have specific identities. Maya is the token girl, played by Commando‘s Pooja Chopra, who deserves a role far more substantive than this one. Jai (Sidharth Malhotra) is Abhay’s protegé gone rogue. Abhay intends to find Jai and terminate him if necessary.

Jai uncovers a bribery plot within the Indian Army, facilitated by retired Lt. General Gurinder Singh (Kumud Mishra) on behalf of London-based arms dealer Mukesh Kapoor (Adil Hussain). While Abhay tracks Jai, the protegé gathers evidence with the help of his internet security expert girlfriend, Sonia (Rakul Preet Singh, who also deserves a meatier part).

The details of the uncomplicated bribery scheme are spelled out in scenes bloated with dialogue. Pandey’s fondness for slow-motion shots underscores the film’s snail-like pace.

Of course the bribery scheme is just the tip of the iceberg, but there’s a naiveté to what Pandey considers a scandal big enough to topple the government. Maybe it’s just my American cynicism, but there’s nothing in Aiyaary egregious enough to inspire more than a “they’re all crooks” shrug.

Then again, the problem may be a matter of narrative focus. Pandey spends too much time on crimes that are obvious and easy to understand, before rushing through more complicated schemes that require evidence he neglects to present. Aiyaary‘s biggest scandals are based on hearsay — which wouldn’t stand up to public scrutiny and doesn’t make for good visual storytelling.

Manoj Bajpayee is often the best part of the movies he stars in, and Aiyaary is no exception. The film’s most enjoyable scenes are playful exchanges between Bajpayee and Juhi Babbar, who plays Abhay’s wife. Malhotra is solid, but his character feels flat, as is the case for many of the supporting characters, who only exist to move the story from Point A to Point B. A lot of talent goes to waste in Aiyaary.

Links

Movie Review: Ittefaq (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy/rent the movie at Amazon or iTunes

A detective distills the truth from two conflicting narratives in Ittefaq (“Coincidence“), a fun, stylish thriller with a killer soundtrack.

The detective, Dev (Akshaye Khanna), is summoned from his sleep to an apartment belonging to a lawyer, Shekhar, who lies dead on the floor. Shekhar’s wife, Maya (Sonakshi Sinha), flagged down a police car, claiming a stranger, Vikram (Sidharth Malhotra), killed her husband. It so happens that they police are looking for Vikram as a suspect in the death of his own wife, Katherine (Kimberly Louisa McBeath).

Melancholy Vikram offers a different version of events, denying responsibility for either death. He further implicates Maya for acting suspicious when he knocked on her door asking for help following a car accident. Dev explains to one of his deputies, “I just feel like there are three sides to this story: Vikram’s, Maya’s, and the truth.”

Because Vikram is a famous author and a British resident, Dev’s superior gives him three days to charge the man or let him go. Dev’s digging turns up further secrets that Maya and Vikram would rather stay hidden, but are they really connected to the case or are they distractions? How much of this case really is a matter of coincidence?

Writer-director Abhay Chopra’s story keeps a steady tempo, wasting little time in a movie that clocks in well under two hours long. Much of the film takes place at night or in dingy jail cells, and even daytime scenes are dimmed by the monsoon. Cinematographer Michal Luka uses the darkness to great effect.

The real star of the Ittefaq is the superb score by American composer BT, hooking the audience from the movie’s opening car chase sequence. The music pulses as Maya tells her version of events, the soundtrack keeping viewers as off-balance as Maya feels in the presence of a dangerous stranger.

Both Malhotra and Sinha have good poker faces as they change their characters to the story’s demands, from grieving spouses when stating their own cases to the police to villains in each other’s flashbacks.

Ittefaq doesn’t work unless Khanna’s performance is spot on, and thankfully it is. He sidesteps common movie-detective traps like excessive yelling or quirkiness in a way that avoids drawing too much attention to Dev, despite him being the character with the most screentime. It would be fun to see Dev helm a series of murder mysteries, perhaps with even more input from his astute wife (played by Mandira Bedi).

It’s nice to see a Hindi movie where the cops aren’t depicted as heartless monsters or incompetent fools, for a change. Any mistakes the officers under Dev make are honest ones. Ittefaq is pretty heavy on police procedural elements, for fans of that subgenre. For everyone else, it’s just a well-made movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Links

Movie Review: A Gentleman (2017)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the song “Bandook Meri Laila” at iTunes

A Gentleman delivers on its promise to be a funny, sexy action entertainer.

Strait-laced Gaurav (Sidharth Malhotra) wants nothing more from life than a nice house, a wife, kids, and a reliable car. While the wife and kids are still a work in progress, Gaurav is the proud new owner of the safest minivan on the market and a McMansion in the Miami suburbs. The dining room furnishings are from Pottery Barn and the kitchen Crate & Barrel, he proudly tells his guests.

Gaurav’s top candidate to fill the “wife” part of his dream is his peppy colleague, Kavya (Jacqueline Fernandez). She genuinely likes Gaurav, but he’s too boring for her taste. She wants a husband who suits her free-spending, fast-driving lifestyle.

While Gaurav gets advice from his married co-worker, Dikshit (Hussain Dalal), on how to appeal to Kavya’s wild side, the action shifts to Bangkok. A group of secret agents infiltrate the Chinese embassy, led by Rishi (also Malhotra), a dashing James Bond-type who’s a dead-ringer for Gaurav. This is the dynamic man Kavya has been dreaming of.

Following a botched safe-cracking attempt and subsequent motorcycle chase, Rishi and his crew — which includes his trigger-happy accomplice Yakub (Darshan Kumar) — return to headquarters to meet with their leader: The Colonel (Suniel Shetty). Rishi is tired of life as a extrajudicial assassin for Unit X, desiring instead a quiet family life in a home he can call his own — exactly the life that Gaurav has.

When his appeals to patriotism and personal loyalty don’t work, The Colonel offers to let Rishi go after one last job. Rishi and crew just need to intercept a package in Mumbai. Meanwhile, in Miami, Gaurav is chosen to deliver sensitive information in person to a client located — where else? — Mumbai!

Unlike previous films by the directing duo Raj & D.K. and their co-writer Sita Menon, A Gentleman is well-paced, allowing enough time to linger on details without ever feeling slow. The movie also establishes a sense of place, familiarizing the audience with the layout of Gaurav’s neighborhood and paying off that familiarity later on.

There are some great jokes in A Gentleman aimed at the US. Asked if she knows how to shoot, an exasperated Kavya says, “It’s America,” before cocking her gun like a pro. A laundromat owner named Jignesh (Amit Mistry) is tasked with finding someone, so he activates his spy network: the Desi Store Mafia Group, made up of the owners of Indian grocery stores and restaurants across Miami. My high school friend Ramya once lamented that there were no secrets within the local desi community, and attributing that to an organized business syndicate is pretty funny.

Malhotra and Fernandez suit this material, and not just because they are both gorgeous and fit for skimpy Miami attire. They bring energy to action scenes, heat to romantic sequences, and they share a nice rapport during lighter, humorous moments as well. It’s always a treat to watch Fernandez dance, and thankfully she gets a good soundtrack to dance to, including the Sachin-Jigar bop “Bandook Meri Laila.”

Links

Movie Review: Baar Baar Dekho (2016)

baarbaardekho2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

Baar Baar Dekho (“Look Again and Again“) is a romance that feels more like a horror movie.

It’s impossible to write about Baar Baar Dekho without talking about the plot device that moves the story from its first act into its second. Describing that plot device kinda, sorta constitutes a spoiler, so read on with caution.

Diya Kapoor (Katrina Kaif) and Jai Verma (Sidharth Malhotra) have been inseparable since childhood and dating since they were old enough to do so. As young adults, they are ready to take the next step and get married. At least Diya is. Jai agrees to her marriage proposal out of inevitability.

For some reason, Jai is surprised by the lavishness of the festivities thrown by Diya’s dad (Ram Kapoor), as if he hasn’t known the Kapoors his whole life. In the middle of the hoopla, Jai is offered a professorship in Mathematics at a university in England. This is a big deal because Jai freaking loves math.

Jai does the stupid thing only a movie character would do and doesn’t tell Diya about the job offer. He waits to do so until they are in the middle of a fight. Kaif’s delivery is terrific as Diya tearfully says, “Jai, if I leave now, I’m not coming back.”

Earlier in the day, Jai argued with the priest (Rajit Kapur) during wedding preparations. When Jai downs a whole bottle of Champagne and passes out, it triggers the priest’s Ghost of Christmas Future-like curse. Jai wakes up in Thailand on his honeymoon, with no memory of the previous ten days.

This is terrifying. Jai runs about the hotel, frantic to find anyone who can explain how he got there. It’s a stomach-churning sequence amplified by the fact that there are tons of people around, yet no one speaks Hindi.

When he eventually finds Diya, she dismisses his panic because, dang it, they’ve got a tour scheduled. Spineless Jai gives in and goes on the tour.

This happens over and over again in the same manner: Jai wakes up in a different time period; he freaks out; Diya dismisses his concerns and calls him an idiot; Jai just goes along with whatever until he falls asleep and shifts through time again.

It’s frustrating enough that Jai won’t just sit Diya down and say, “Damnit, I’m caught in a temporal anomaly. Help me!” It’s worse that — in every time period — she belittles him. The story is about why they are supposed to be together, but why should they be? Who’d want to be with a partner who responds to your fear with insults?

Also, one of the recurring problems in their relationship is that Jai often prioritizes math over Diya. Isn’t it her fault for not anticipating this? Everyone knows Jai freaking loves math.

Of course, Jai’s not great, either. Whenever Jai tells Diya that he loves her, she asks him why. He never mentions anything about her personality or characteristics, responding instead with job descriptions: “Because you’re my wife.” Even when he finally figures out the “right” answer to the question, it still amounts to, “Because I always have.” So, momentum.

The film’s problems lie in the weak relationship between the main characters, but credit to writer-director Nitya Mehra for cleverly introducing a very science-fiction premise into a mainstream Hindi film. The technological advancements of the future depicted are low-key enough not to scare off sci-fi-haters (though I have my doubts that Twitter will still be around in 2034).

Mehra uses some neat framing tricks to emphasize Jai’s emotions. As the gravity of his impending marriage sinks in during the wedding prep with the priest, the camera cuts between Jai, the priest, Diya, and other people at the gathering. Every time the camera cuts back to the priest — who is explaining the symbolism of the ceremony — the priest’s face appears larger within the frame until he’s nothing but a talking mouth, overwhelming everything else in Jai’s world.

Mehra’s almost too good at this, in fact. The moments after Jai wakes up in each time period are scary. Things are noisy and hectic and full of people he doesn’t know. It’s hard for the audience to shut off the anxiety generated by such scenes as quickly as the story demands. Everything is chaos and fear one second, then we’re suddenly supposed to laugh as Jai ruins breakfast and Diya calls him “useless” for the umpteenth time.

On the upside, Malhotra and Kaif are exceptionally good-looking, and there are worse ways to spend two hours than by starring at them. Kaif’s a wonderful dancer, and her outfit in “Nachde Ne Saare” is stunning.

Still, I’m not sure that’s enough to recommend Baar Baar Dekho. This feels like another case where the audience is supposed to root for the main characters to wind up together just because they’re the main characters, and not because they’re a good match.

Links

Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons (2016)

Kapoor&Sons4 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the movie at Amazon or iTunes
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

Kapoor & Sons packs enough of an emotional wallop to leave one reeling. It’s going to be tough to beat when the Best of 2016 rankings come out.

The Kapoor family — father Harsh (Rajat Kapoor), mother Sunita (Ratna Pathak), elder son Rahul (Fawad Khan), and younger son Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) — reunite at the bedside of ailing patriarch Amarjeet (Rishi Kapoor) when he suffers a heart attack just before his 90th birthday. The birthday provides a reason for the boys to linger for a few days in their childhood home.

All of the undercurrents of tension between the family members surface as soon as the boys come home. Harsh and Sunita are shorter with one another than they used to be, though they fall back into old patterns with their sons. Rahul is the golden boy, his room a shrine to his accomplished youth. Perpetual screw-up Arjun finds his bedroom re-purposed as his mom’s closet, overrun with purses and exercise equipment.

There’s trouble between the boys, too. Rahul waits for his brother to grow up, while Arjun harbors resentment toward Rahul, not just for his exalted status but by a suspicion that it may have come at Arjun’s expense. None of these concerns are addressed openly, leaving wounds to fester.

Two people make the trip home worthwhile. First, Grandpa Amarjeet, whose abundant love for his grandsons only grows when they teach him how to watch pornography on his iPad. Second, Tia (Alia Bhatt): a fun-loving neighbor who meets the boys separately and charms them both.

Kapoor & Sons is beautifully balanced, with funny moments juxtaposed against serious revelations. Writer-director Shakun Batra and co-writer Ayesha Devitre Dhillon set the perfect tempo, allowing subplots and relationships to develop at a pace that never feels rushed.

Behind all of the action is a beautiful, evocative score by Sameer Uddin. Of all the film’s wonderful qualities, the score may be the very best.

The acting in Kapoor & Sons is top-notch, the whole cast striking the right tone under Batra’s direction. Ratna Pathak and Rajat Kapoor are so strong as a couple whose marriage suffers after their kids have grown up and moved out. It’s wonderful to watch Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra grow as young actors.

Fawad Khan is hypnotic. His acting is graceful and grounded and stands out even when compared to the film’s other great performances.

Rishi Kapoor is terrific as well, equal parts funny and moving as an old man who just wants his family to be happy again. His makeup and prosthetics (designed by Greg Cannom) age the 63-year-old Kapoor effectively, without being distracting.

Two supporting performances of note belong to Sukant Goel as Arjun’s pal Wasim and Fahim Shaikh as Wasim’s bodybuilding brother, Boobly, who steals every scene he’s in.

Batra’s directorial debut Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu showed a ton of promise, though it was marred by a frustrating ending. Those frustrations are nowhere to be found in Kapoor & Sons, a mature, satisfying film. Well done.

Links

Movie Review: Brothers (2015)

Brothers1 Star (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Among screenwriting jobs, Brothers: Blood Against Blood should be as easy as it gets. The movie is an official remake of Warrior, a great Hollywood film by Gavin O’Connor. Translate the dialogue, relocate the action, cast some Bollywood stars, and boom, you’re done. So why is Brothers so bad?

Warrior is superbly written. Every character has clear motivation and a goal in every scene. Background information is doled out efficiently. The plot is brisk.

For some reason, director Karan Malhotra and his screenplay adapter/wife, Ekta Pathak Malhotra, abandoned the original film’s efficiency in favor of overly long melodrama. The characters in Brothers are left adrift. We know too much about their history, but nothing about what they want right now.

Former alcoholic Gary Fernandez (Jackie Shroff) emerges from prison sober but unhinged. His son, Monty (Sidharth Malhotra, no relation to the director), brings his father home, watching as the broken old man sees the ghost of his dead wife Maria (Shefali Shah) in every corner. Gary wants to know why his other son, David (Akshay Kumar), hasn’t come to meet him.

David is a high school physics teacher, burdened by the cost of his daughter’s dialysis. He earns some cash in an illegal street fight, but his bruises cost him his job. David’s wife, Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandez), worries about the danger of his return to the ring, but he can’t resist the allure of fighting in India’s first televised mixed martial arts tournament, Right 2 Fight (R2F). Neither can Monty.

Most of the copious flashbacks in Brothers are time-wasters (really, we need to see David and Jenny falling in love?). The only useful one explains why the brothers are estranged. Monty is Gary’s son from an affair, and David blames his younger half-brother for destroying his family. Maria makes is clear that she loves Monty as much as her biological son, but David doesn’t care.

The single biggest problem in Brothers is that the Malhotras think that David is a hero. Having a sick kid may make him sympathetic, but it doesn’t automatically mean he’s a good person. During a match at R2F, David is so enraged that he continues to pummel an unconscious opponent, even as his physics students watch on television. (Gary is proud of him for this. What a guy.) David is the one who turned his back on his little brother, and he apparently never tried to reach out to Monty in the years since.

It’s not clear how Monty spent the decades that his father was incarcerated. When he starts his fighting career, he’s terrible, and he doesn’t decide to pursue it seriously until halfway through the movie. There’s a hint that, because Gary is a former fighter, Monty fights to gain his father’s approval, but that storyline goes nowhere.

Sidharth provides no help in elucidating his character’s motivation because he has only two emotions: sad and bewildered. When Monty isn’t moping, he’s flinching from the bright lights of the arena, as though he’s a defrosted caveman fearfully trying to comprehend the modern world.

spideyPictured Above: Sidharth’s acting coach for Brothers?

Akshay is a trained martial artist, but his salt-and-pepper beard makes him look too old to play a competitive fighter. It looks like Sidharth is fighting his dad while his grandpa, Jackie Shroff, watches. David’s a bad enough guy as is, and Akshay doesn’t do anything to make him more likable.

The two women in the cast — Jacqueline and Shefali — give the strongest performances, but they cry in every one of their scenes. The excess of melodrama peaks when David looks at his battered brother in the ring and hallucinates Monty as a smiling little boy. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Another bit of unintentional — but totally predictable — comedy in Brothers: David’s daughter is called “Poopoo.” The ladies in the theater with me hooted every time someone said her name.

Nothing happens quickly in Brothers. Something as simple as a character walking into the arena takes several minutes. An inordinate amount of time is devoted to the R2F promoter, who has nothing to do with the main story. There’s a lengthy item number featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan dancing in a Benihana, intercut with scenes of David training, for who knows what reason.

Brothers isn’t bad in comparison to Warrior, it’s just bad. Why would anyone watch this when they could just rent Warrior?

Links

Opening August 14: Brothers

One new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on August 14, 2015. Brothers: Blood Against Blood — starring Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra — is the official remake of the 2011 Hollywood film Warrior, which stars Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy. I really, really liked Warrior, and this remake fills me with trepidation.

Brothers opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 36 min.

Bangistan gets a second week at the South Barrington 30, which also holds over the Pakistani film Bin Roye.

Drishyam carries over for a third week at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan gets a fifth week at the Gardens 1-6, South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Other Indian films showing in the Chicago area this weekend include:

Bollywood Box Office: June 27-29

Ek Villain‘s impressive opening weekend performance in the U.S. and Canada shouldn’t come as a shock. High profile adult thrillers are rare commodities for Bollywood fans in North America, and fans tend to reward them by showing up at the theater.

According to Box Office Mojo, Ek Villain earned $414,116 from 104 theaters in its opening weekend in North America. Its per-screen average of $3,982 ranks sixth among opening weekend averages this year, just above star Sidharth Malhotra’s other 2014 release, Hasee Toh Phasee.

High profile Bollywood thrillers don’t come along often. (I’m not counting racier fare like my beloved Jism 2 and Murder 3, which opened in 19 and 12 theaters in North America, respectively.) The last was arguably Talaash in late 2012, which debuted on 172 screens and went on to earn $2,871,956. Earlier that year, Kahaani premiered on 45 screens but earned enough money to add theaters in its second weekend. It went on to gross $1,017,960.

Both of those movies featured established stars, but there seems to be a consensus that Malhotra is a star of the future. That’s evident in the number of theaters carrying his films. Distributor Reliance Big Pictures opened the romantic comedy Hasee Toh Phasee on 88 screens, and Eros International released Ek Villain in 104 theaters

Compare that theater count to Eros’ other North American theatrical releases this year. It’s obviously lower than the number of theaters allotted to Salman Khan’s Jai Ho (195) and Rajnikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan (161), but it’s only four fewer than Farhan Akhtar’s and Vidya Balan’s Shaadi Ke Side Effects (108). Most notably, Malhotra’s theater count for Ek Villain is significantly higher than the count fellow emerging star Varun Dhawan got for the comedy Main Tera Hero (77) and nearly ten times that of Harman Bhaweja’s Dishkiyaoon (11).

As for other Hindi movies showing in North America June 27-29, Bollywood Hungama reports a steep decline in receipts for Humshakals in its second weekend. Business fell by almost 90% as the comedy earned $33,398 from 73 theaters ($458 average). Its total stands at $393,557.

Other Hindi movies still in theaters:

  • Holiday: Week 4; $12,245 from 12 theaters; $1,020 average; $839,183 total
  • The Lunchbox: Week 17; $10,980 from 12 theaters; $915 average; $3,989,032 total
  • Miss Lovely: Week 2; $143 from one theater; $1,100 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Ek Villain (2014)

Ek_Villain_Poster2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Despite director Mohit Suri’s protestations to the contrary, Ek Villain (“The Villain“) is a remake of the 2010 Korean thriller I Saw the Devil. A remake isn’t necessarily inferior to the original, nor are comparisons between the two always fair. Still, Suri abandons some of the core elements that made the original so compelling in favor of a convoluted, morally conflicted story that gets overwhelmed by its own ambition.

In Ek Villain, Sidharth Malhotra plays Guru, a former mafia hitman reformed by the love of a good woman, Aisha (Shraddha Kapoor). On the very day that the elements of a happy future fall into place for Guru and Aisha, she’s murdered by a stranger.

The police try to use Aisha’s murder to trick Guru into taking out his former boss, Caesar (Remo Fernandes), but clues point Guru toward an unlikely killer: a family man named Rakesh (Riteish Deshmukh).

All this is revealed early in the movie because the question is not who killed Aisha but whether her death will cause Guru to revert to his old, murderous ways. Aisha gets a lot of airtime via flashbacks to her early romance with Guru, as she softens up the tough guy with her aggressive cheerfulness and bad jokes.

Guru is underdeveloped, despite a bunch of flashbacks to how he became a contract killer. His past matters less than what he does in the present, but several key choices that would reveal the state of Guru’s character development are taken out of his hands. The subplot about Guru’s relationship with the police doesn’t make much sense, either.

Rakesh is the film’s most complicated character, so much so that perhaps he should have been the protagonist. That would’ve allowed for Suri to use an anti-hero to explore the plight of middle-class men in India, a motivating factor sited by Rakesh. But because Rakesh is only the villain, his rationale (and the lack of pushback against it) is more troublesome.

The serial killer in I Saw the Devil murders women because he considers them all to be symbols of past sexual rejection. He doesn’t choose his victims because they personally have rejected him but simply because they are there and they are women. The point of his murderous misogyny is that it is random and universal.

Rakesh, on the other hand, doesn’t murder randomly. He punishes women he believes have wronged him, whether by mocking him, by exercising authority over him, or just by asking him to do his job more efficiently.

This is a very different kind of motivation than random gender-specific homicide as it allows for victim-blaming. If only his victims had treated him politely, Rakesh might not have attacked them. Rakesh’s twisted ideology is reaffirmed by his friend, Brijesh (Kamaal R. Khan), who slaps his wife and visits brothels, which he considers the only ways for a modern middle-class man to relieve his frustration.

Brijesh’s views, Rakesh’s murder spree, and the fact that Guru is solely concerned with revenge for Aisha, not with preventing Rakesh from hurting other women, combine to create an undercurrent of acceptance of violence against women. In Rakesh’s mind — and maybe in the mind of some audience members — the women he kills had it coming.

Ek Villain invites so much analysis because Suri feels the need to explain everything. If some relevant point isn’t shown in a flashback, the characters give detailed descriptions of what happened and why. Suri isn’t content to let the audience figure things out for themselves.

The movie’s saving grace is its relatively brief runtime of just over two hours. That keeps the action moving along, especially since Rakesh delivers much of his expository dialogue while Guru is beating him up.

The music is pretty good, and there’s some fine camerawork throughout, too. An impressive fight scene when Guru confronts Caesar is shot with minimal edits in a nod to another dark Korean film, 2003’s Oldboy. (Oldboy was remade in Hindi in 2006 as Zinda, but that film totally botched its recreation of Oldboy‘s signature one-take hallway fight scene.)

Suri deserves credit for picking a quality film to recreate, and Ek Villain has a lot of elements to recommend it over other Bollywood fare. However, many of the changes Suri makes to accommodate a mainstream Hindi-film audience distract from the film’s core themes. It’s almost a success, but not quite.

Links

Opening June 27: Ek Villain and Miss Lovely

Two Hindi films are releasing in Chicago on June 27, 2014. One is an older festival favorite, while another makes its worldwide debut. The brand new film is Ek Villain, a thriller starring Riteish Deshmukh, Sidharth Malhotra, and Shraddha Kapoor that’s at least partially inspired by the 2010 Korean film I Saw the Devil. Having recently watched I Saw the Devil — one of the most graphic, brutal, depressing movies you’re likely to find — I have no idea how it could possibly be reworked for a mainstream Hindi-film audience.

Ek Villain opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 9 min. If it bears even a slight similarity to the original, you will regret bringing your kids to the theater with you.

The older film opening on Friday at Facets Cinematheque in Chicago is 2012’s Miss Lovely, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

After posting acceptable opening weekend returns, Humshakals gets a second weekend at MovieMax, South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Holiday gets a fourth weekend at MovieMax and the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Punjab 1984 (Punjabi w/English subtitles) at the Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale and Autonagar Surya (Telugu w/no subtitles) at MovieMax, Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and Cinemark Tinseltown USA in North Aurora. MovieMax is also carrying Saivam (Tamil), Bangalore Days (Malayalam), Oohalu Gusagusalade (Telugu), and Mundasupatti (Tamil).