You Need To Grow A Pair
You know Valentine's Day is just around the corner when a slate of romantic films get positioned by distributors to capture that whiff of love in the air. Postponed from an October release last year, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is this year's major Bollywood offering for the romantic season and has two successful stars of recent years, Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor, pairing up for the first time in what would seem like a typical comedy of opposites attracting, but this Karan Johar produced film had other plans to stand out, and it did, quite surprisingly, by being spiritual cousin of Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer.
Why? Because it's a story about friendship more than that of romantic partners, not that they don't try, or at least one character did. But it stuck to its Bollywood roots quite firmly in being an all round entertainer rather than to embroil itself around strong, tearful emotions that (500) Days brought about. And it's interesting to see how signals can be (mis)interpreted, with the story by Shakun Batra and Ayesha DeVitre, the former who also directed the film, dealing all the cards through examples that very often those in love, or out of, would face from time to time.
Some detractors would have judged this film prematurely from its trailer and thought that it was yet another unauthorized Bollywood remake of What Happens in Vegas, since this film contains characters who are vastly opposites hanging out in Sin City, and through a drunken stupor gotten married in one of the many quickie marriage chapels the city has to offer, before waking up the next day not only with a massive hangover, but realizing that they are married. There might be a hint of similarities in that setting, but the story was anything but similar from that point on.
Taking place over the Christmas to New Year period where year end celebrations of sorts are abound, where ties amongst family and friends get reaffirmed and renewed, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu shines precisely because of the leading actors' chemistry, range and their vivid fleshing of well written characters. All other aspects of the film really didn't matter as you'll be transfixed by their interaction, although I would like to say that the song Aunty Ji was memorable and remarkable. Imran and Kareena sparkle each time they share loads of screen time together, making you wish you were somehow involved in the plenty of fun they get to find themselves in.
Imran Khan has had a series of successful films where he plays the alpha romantic lead, but here he transforms into the meek and geeky Rahul Kapoor, a man, or boy rather, who has been brought up shackled to do what his parents (played by Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah) so desire, with Dad always thinking his son never measures up, and his mom being a frivolous woman interested with only the family's social standing. If one does not dare talk to Dad, and in general doesn't connect with one's parents, frankly I weep for that person, being programmed to approach life in a certain way rather than to take in whatever unexpectedness that life can dish out. Imran makes his Rahul believable and likable, with that dorkiness no thanks to being belittled and shackled throughout life, sapping and stifling all spirit within him. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is the story of his breaking free.
And Kareena Kapoor becomes his emotional crutch to do just that. You may wonder if she's acting cute, but I have to admit that her approach doesn't make it look too artificial, or forced so badly that you'd begin to dislike her role. Granted Kareena isn't the youngest of the stars in Bollywood of late, but she sure showed who amongst the industry possess incredible acting chops, and she shines as the ditzy, and expense conscious Riana who's emotionally not so stable, and Captain Vice to Rahul's many unplanned shenanigans. It helps of course that when the movie has to shift locales back to India that her zany, quirky family members were that breath of fresh air needed to counterbalance and contrast that with the rich, stiff upper lip folks of Rahul's.
It's that overarching theme of finding contentment and happiness in one's life, short that it already is, that makes this film a winner. It is simple in its execution without many fanciful bells and whistles, entirely focused on the story that we should be living life the way we want to, rather than to spend it living the way others would want us to. And perhaps as a date movie for the Valentine's Weekend, a reminder that it's also a celebration of friendships as well, not only reserved to those with whom we share a romantic relationship with. And perhaps it will hurt less as well, for those amongst us who are have uneventful or unsuccessful love lives, that it's not really the end of the world, really. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is highly recommended fare!