Director Mohit Suri loves to explore negativity in his protagonists and the streak of a loser in his heroes. After the love story of an alcoholic in Aashiqui-2, he goes all out to discover the dark side of human behaviour but loses his voice trying to appease the galleries. Inspired by a Korean hit I Saw The Devil, Mohit gives us two kinds of villain — Guru (Siddharth Malhotra) and Rakesh (Riteish Deshmukh) — and puts Aisha (Shraddha Kapoor) as a voice of reason and hope between them.

Guru is a cold-blooded gangster redeemed by the love of Aisha. It is a path taken often before by Bollywood heroes and though Siddharth, with his brooding charm, doesn’t disappoint, the inner conflict remains superficial. Rakesh kills to salvage his pride trampled daily by his nagging wife Sulochana (Aamna Sharif). It is an interesting twist but the handling leaves you with more whys than wows. In fact, many times the intentions of the characters are more baffling than the dialogue delivery of Kamal Rashid Khan and Remo, who make an appearance in cameos, or for that matter producer Ekta Kapoor’s indulgence towards changing the image of the two popular bahus of her serials: Aamna and Prachi Desai.

Korean thrillers are difficult to adapt as they are full of dark emotions and twisted characters and not suited to the Bollywood landscape where everything is simplified and spoon-fed to the lowest common denominator. Ek Villain also suffers from this simplistic treatment of complex emotions. For a film trying to be non-linear and layered, it holds its message like a placard in bold letters to survive the adult certificate.

Mohit plays by Bollywood stereotypes. A girl takes the first step in love only when fighting a deadly disease. The boy confuses deewangi (passion) with maradangi (masculinity). Middle class men either beat their wife or kill another’s to escape their stress. Yes, these villains take us to preposterous terrain to justify their actions. A protégé of the Mahesh Bhatt and Sanjay Gupta school of filmmaking, Mohit copies exotic ideas without giving credit and uses soulful music to tone down the blood and gore that comes with the imported material. Here again the music stands out and together with an interesting star cast might salvage the film’s box office prospects, but even Riteish’s image change and Shraddha’s innocence fail to deflect attention from the manufactured clash as Suri and writer Milap Zaveri put too many carbon sheets between the Korean original to meet the demands of a desi thriller.

Bottomline: This contrived battle of psychopaths is going to test your patience.

EK VILLAIN

Genre: Thriller/Romance

Director: Mohit Suri

Cast: Siddharth Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh, Prachi Desai, Aamna Sharif