(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, dated 13 February 2012, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/ek-main-aur-ekk-tu/363409.html)
Cast: Imran Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah
Director: Shakun Batra
Rating: 4 stars
When someone falls for his or her best friend, there are several ways it could turn out – (a) the best friend goes, “whoa, me too!”, they get married, make babies and spend the rest of their lives telling everyone to marry their best friends (b) the best friend doesn’t reciprocate, and they lose both the friendship and the love (c) the best friend wants time to think, and they wait for the dysfunctional relationship to end in a train-wreck (d) it doesn’t work out, they marry other people, remain friends and think twenty years later that their lives would have been so different if only...
I’m not giving away what happens in Ek Main aur Ekk Tu. But you know this isn’t a run-of-the-mill film when a woman in the agony of childbirth contorts her face, and Imran Khan’s voice begins to tell us about several categories of children – the chamcha, the rebel, the smartass, and people like himself. He’s Rahul Kapoor, the guy who never wins the silver medal – he loses the gold medal. As Mr. Kapoor (Boman Irani) reminds him of his failings, Mrs. Kapoor (Ratna Pathak Shah) suggests an alternative avenue of failure for her baby. When the baby’s 25, he’s turned out some kind of perfect – good teeth, lovely manners, clean apartment, freshly-laundered clothes. He eats without spilling a morsel, dates the girls his mommy suggests, and is terrified of sex.
We tag along as he plods through two weeks of his life, from Day 1: The End to Day 14: A New Dawn, and leave him to his devices on Day 112: The Beginning. Rahul’s just been sacked from an American firm, and is being sexually harassed by an Auntyji, while her husband gives him lessons on yoga and hookers. Mummy and Daddy globe-hop from party to party, with the same circle of friends – which means, Rahul’s hardly freer in Vegas than he is in Mumbai. Having mastered the art of looking sheepish and bewildered over the past couple of years, Imran Khan easily secures our sympathy by darting ironic looks at the Kapoors’ friends, and wins us over with his boyish appeal.
True, he’s anal about every little thing. And cute as he is, you’ll find yourself texting “He’s dull as ever!!!” to your girlfriends when you’re out on a date with him. Until Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor) gets him drunk, and dresses him down – “ Aunty ki tarah se gaadi chalate ho...Mummy ki tarah se khaana khaate ho...you’re a girl!” Riana, the girl who holds up the queue at the supermarket as she discusses PMS and psychiatric problems with her mother; Riana, the girl who spits out of car windows; Riana, the girl who reads other people’s medical files; and Riana, the girl who just may buy you a camera when you confide that your childhood dream was to be a photographer.
Okay, so how’s this different from the uplifting romances that Bollywood and Hollywood throw at us every few weeks? Very few films can take life seriously while carrying themselves lightly, and Ek Main aur Ekk Tu strikes just the right balance. Its most intense soliloquies are tempered by reactions as irrelevant as “But chopsticks mein kya kharaabi hai?” Its gravest lines are spoken in settings as incongruous as a toilet seat – or an empty school. Moments of libido-inspired gallantry are broken by an Aunty calling out, “hey, idiot!”
The film has a host of quirky characters, who enjoy their roles. From the nutty grandmother whose neurotic prophecies ring out at the most inappropriate times, to the socialite circle of the Kapoors, to the irreverent Braganzas, to the overcharging shrinks, every little character counts. And the caricaturing of all these people, the leads included, makes for a story that feels authentic, and an ending that’s believable – perhaps because we ourselves have known people and situations like this.
The Verdict: Ek Main aur Ekk Tu is definitely one of the best romantic comedies I’ve seen, and I’m not talking about just Indian ones.