Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is a rather brilliant bait and switch. The promos & marketing promise one movie and the makers deliver another. Personally, I would take the other any day over the expected one. However, going by the reactions of the people in the hall, I suspect that this is a film that will be enjoyed more by the people dragged to watch this movie than the people dragging them. Although it looks like a What Happens In Vegas-esque predictable romantic comedy, it isn’t. It is formulaic, sure. But it isn’t the formula you expect, and that is where the film works.
A night in Vegas later, uptight architect Rahul (Imran Khan) wakes up to a new bride, Riana (Kareena Kapoor) thanks to an Elvis Chapel and lots of booze. She’s a carefree hairstylist. He’s a neat freak, depressed wreck with extremely controlling, overbearing parents (Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah). They apply for annulment immediately and over their two week marriage, they grow from strangers to friends and maybe, something more.
The humour in EMAET is plentiful and thankfully, the promos save the best moments for the cinema hall. There is a hilarious bathroom sex scene (well, as close to sex as Bollywood can get), an adorable re-imagining of “Koi Mil Gaya” from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, some great granny humour and several solid one liners. The good thing about the humour is that the writers don’t try to make every scene laugh out loud funny. They stay true to the characters and provide enough guffaws and giggles as well.
Beyond humour, the film benefits from more nuance in the characterisation than is expected from the routine rom com fares. Imran Khan handles the transformation of Rahul from uptight to easy remarkably well. From the expressions to the body language, he gets most things right. Kareena Kapoor’s Riana is something of an urban avatar of Geet from Jab We Met. However, they are different in small but important ways and Kapoor does a solid job throughout. It’s great to see her do something more than just play damsel in distress for Salman or SRK.
However, the true stars of the film are Ayesha Devitre and Shakun Batra. The writing is fresh and barring a few awkward scenes, the execution is clean and highly competent. The writing has the urban authenticity of Wake Up Sid and a quirky touch that is new (and very welcome) to mainstream Bollywood. Except for Rahul’s caricatured parents, the characters and their relationships are easy to identify with and their conversations are straight out of life. Although the second half has too many songs, the runtime is economic and pacing perfect.
Overall, EMAET is one part laugh out loud funny, one part disarmingly, achingly sweet and a whole lot of fun. Although the first half has all the trappings of formulaic romance, the second half quietly & successfully drives the film to a more mature, slice of life comedy. It is that rare treat that has something for everyone: from hipsters to hopeless romantics; from adolescents to aunty-jis.
P.S.: On a side, mostly unrelated note, are the 20s the new teens as far as the romantic comedy are concerned?