Ek Deewana Tha, 2012

I feel like this movie opened under-the-radar a bit. I hardly saw any promotion for it and the stuff I did see didn’t adequately whet my desire to rush to the theatres.

Unfortunately I did see this in theatres (thanks, bank holidays and boredom!) and I want my 13$ and the breakfast I barfed up back. Ek Deewana Tha is trite, unbelievable and far too long.

Correct me if I am wrong but I do not think the audience should a) think and b) hope the film is over when interval comes. I totally thought it was over, it was a rather climatic lead-in to a great finale, but it kept going… forever, and ever, and ever…

Ek Deewana Tha is the “near perfect” love story between Sachin (Prateik Babbar) and Jessie (Amy Jackson) who are neighbors in a Mumbai bungalow. The film follows them from love at first sight through their, rather dysfunctional, relationship that seems fraught with obstacles. Sachin is a 22-year-old wannabe film maker interning for Ramesh Sippy (yeah) and lives his life by envisioning it as an ongoing film. Jessie, aside from her disastrously trashy and 80s-centric name, is the mature older woman at 23-years-old*. She’s a devout Christian and has only seen five films in her life due to her father’s über strict upbringing. Did I mention that Sachin is Hindu? Did I mention if I cared that it mattered?**

Since he lives his life as if it were a film, Sachin employs the ever useful tactic of stalking in his efforts to ensnare Jessie. I will give him credit for admitting that stalking was what he was doing. In a voice over he refers to it as the infallible “Follow Her Method”. After about 3 days of broodingly staring at her he confesses that he is in love with her. She runs off to Kerala and he follows her. Of course.

The rest of the film involves the back-and-forth of their relationship. Jessie is too afraid of her parents to commit to Sachin and Sachin overcorrects by squishing the small moments of independence that Jessie has.  Jessie ends up walking down the aisle no less than two times (she runs away from both weddings) and Sachin pours his heartbreak into an autobiographical film. Eventually, after a two year separation, the couple elopes and Sachin’s film is a success.

Can’t you hear my enthusiasm dripping from every word?

Aside from the constant “will they or won’t they?” this film is just packed with way, way too much cheese. Sachin is filming the love scene to his movie about Jessie when he sees her for the first time in two years. This all happens at the Taj Mahal. The fact that he is even making a movie about a two-week relationship is absurd; never mind that the film he is making is the film we are watching and it’s apparently a “super hit”.

Yeah, Ek Deewana Tha would only be a “super hit” in this contrived, fictional scenario.

Montages feature prominently in this film… probably because there wasn’t enough real story to fill up the three hours of film. Instead we’re treated to the hero day dreaming about his lover drinking tea in her bedroom. That was weird.  All in all a third of the movie is spent in the windblown world of daydreams accented by the half-assed ambience of an A. R. Rahman score.

I know the film is touted as “an A. R. Rahman musical” but even his genius can’t save this sinking ship. I know I am personally ambivalent about his music (Rockstar OST is another story: it’s amazing) but I’m not going to deny the man has great talent.  Do I think his abilities are wasted in this film? Absolutely. First of all, he shouldn’t be penning rap. Ever. Secondly you can’t blame him for mediocre output when he is presented with mediocre material. There are a handful very good moments musically (there is this violin riff that is just divine), but overall the songs aren’t going to stick in your head or stand the test of time.*** There also needed to be some sort of consensus about “singing” between the director and the actors because I don’t know what was more painful: watching them try to lip synch along to the words, or just getting halfway through a song before giving up and just smiling.

It’s hard to remember that Prateik Babbar has a few films under his belt. He seemed wooden, confused, and overall awkward. He was trying, he really was, but I don’t know that romantic lead is a niche I don’t think he should make a career out of.  Heaven bless him, the boy does try and my heart goes out to him.

I almost don’t want to talk about Amy Jackson, but I have to. Models are models for a reason. She is a model. She’s gorgeous, yes. She can’t act for beans, but she can walk really well and make good, unfocused faces.  She was just another cardboard element in a bland film. It should also be noted that if you are going to cast an Englishwoman as a South Indian you had better make sure her insensitively applied “dark face” doesn’t run while she’s crying.

I don’t know why she couldn’t have played a white woman. Everyone sitting in that audience knew she had been spray tanned within an inch of her life and was muddling her way through a mime that she was speaking.  Dubbing is one thing but just moving your mouth lackadaisically is another. The whole thing just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The film would have neither been hurt nor helped by making Jessie a Caucasian woman.

The worst part about watching this film was the nagging feeling in the back of my head that told me if SRK and Kajol where on that screen, and it was 20 years ago, this film would have been well received. I’m not saying Ek Deewana Tha is regressive in anyway, but it doesn’t hold up in the direction romantic movies are heading in the Indian Film Industry. It doesn’t resonate with the audience in the way that Band Baajaa Barrat, Ek Main aur Ekk Tu or even Delhi Belly (because that jump-through-the-car-window kiss is HOT) do. It’s a valiant effort, but it just flops… spectacularly.

*If 23 equates as a “mature older woman” then sign me up for Botox. Stat.

**I’m not going to deny that religion is a tricky subject for couples but I think that compared to everything else going on with these two characters this facet was given far too much screen time and nothing was ever really discussed outside of saying “But I’m Hindu!” or “You know I am Christian!”

***If these songs stand the test of time, you can eat my hat for me.

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