Ek Villain Returns review: This Villaintine’s Day, audience ki ‘shaamat’ aayi hai

Mohit Suri’s uncalled for spiritual sequel to his 2014 film ends up in a disaster. Arjun Kapoor, Disha Patani, John Abraham, Tara Sutaria all need do some serious soul searching.

Language: Hindi

Rating: 1 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

The last minute two new shortened trailers were perhaps an attempt to cut the clutter from the first one. Unfortunately, first impression is often the last impression. The first trailer was panned for its melodrama, voyeurism. Perhaps, this voyeurism was also reflected in the trailer launch where ‘being bad’ was cheered on by the cast and the star struck media.

With a catchline of ‘There are no heroes’, Ek Villain Returns [2022] perhaps alienated the traditional family audience. Director Mohit Suri and producer Ektaa Kapoor though pinned their hopes on the Ek Villain [2014] loyalists. We had our reservation about the first film too, with only Riteish Deshmukh and Aamna Sharif excelling in villainous roles. The spiritual sequel Ek Villain Returns comes with a fresh cast. Arjun Kapoor was offered the first film but didn’t have dates then. He is now joined by seasoned actor John Abraham, glam artistes Disha Patani and Tara Sutaria in Ek Villian Returns.

Despite his flaws, Rakesh Mahadkar’s [Deshmukh] descent into chaos was driven by life circumstances. He became a monster yet there was a certain empathy for this loser lower middle class Maharashtrian. Unfortunately, the lead cast in Ek Villain Returns [2022] all seem to be craving for the villain’s badge. ‘There are no heroes’ is fine, but how do you proceed ahead with a film where the leading characters are all grey? No harm in that per se, but the problem lies in the characterization and the portrayal that compels us to say, ‘This is no film, but a sham’.

We have Bhairav Purohit [John Abraham] a cabbie by the day, and a zoo keeper by the night. Yet, he seems to be devoting much of his time ferrying around his crush Rasika Mapuskar [Disha Patani]. Given her materialistic desires, and her sizzling beauty, you do wonder why would Rasika waste her life being a s-mall saleswoman? Unfortunately, for Bhairav, it’s not a two-way traffic here.

Gautam Mehra [Arjun Kapoor] is the spoilt rich brat who’d rather die than lose. He doesn’t even spare his father. The fuzzy HBK [Heart Break Kid]-wannabe had exposed his crush, singing starlet Aarvi Malhotra] few months ago, but now the news of her mysterious disappearance, maybe murder, drives him mad. Needless to say, he is the prime suspect.

The high-on-testosterone men or the femme fatale women, all raise doubts over their characters. The ‘ek villain’ here could be any of them, or maybe none of them. Hang on, but neither the first film, nor the second ever claimed to be a whodunnit. However, it is unethical to reveal the entire plot.

Mohit Suri had denied Ek Villain [2014] being inspired by Korean film I Saw The Devil [2010]. We believe that Ek Villain Returns [2022] is an original. It is a return for director Suri, but not for Ek Villain writer Tushar Hiranandani. Suri gets BellBottom [2021] writer Aseem Arora to pen his screenplay and dialogue. Maybe, Arora simply followed his direction’s vision or the lack it. It is really difficult to put into perspective the torrid screenplay as its all over the place. If you’re trying to sell a film to the masses, then a non-linear storytelling style might be too hard on their head. Then again, Bollywood prides in its ‘leave-your-brain behind’ stories. The worrying factor though is amidst this long drought phase for Bollywood, where is this mass audience? Barring Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 [2022] and the politically backed The Kashmir Files [2022], theatres – multiplex or single screens, have been largley running empty over the last two years.

Ek Villain was [2014] slammed for its chauvinism, sexism. It’s evident in the spiritual sequel too. EK Villains Returns dangerously encourages destructive reaction to a heartbreak. While it is tough to empathise with the potentially femme fatale leading ladies, but they counter the chauvnism with their feminism. Some might find that as woke.

John Abraham’s reluctance to promote Ek Villain Returns whole heartedly was a sign of the grim reality that would hit the audience. “It will work, if it is good. It won’t, if it is bad”, Abraham meant every of word it during the press conference in Mumbai on 23 July. The woody acting and the muscle show has become trademark John. But how long can the 49-year-old continue with these cliched roles? The restrained nature of Bhairav perhaps saved the audience from more agony as John isn’t loud ala his Satyamev Jayate avatars.

This is precisely the kind of performance that sees Arjun Kapoor being trolled regularly. Kapoor is a likable guy who charms all in his press interactions. It baffles us that where does this confidence go when facing the camera? The poorly written screenplay, cringeworthy dialogues limit the scope for an actor. But there is no escaping from the abysmal performance.

Similarly, it baffles us as to where has the ‘actor’ Disha Patani disappeared after impressing in her maiden Hindi film MS: Dhoni: The Untold Story [2016]? Tara Sutara has shown a penchant for femme fatale roles in her young career so far. Madam, it is fine to snub the run-of-the-mill stuff, but we’ve yet to see the actor in Tara Sutaria. Her singing [Shaamat song] too isn’t encouraging.

It’s pointless finding individual flaws in a shambolic screenplay but Kapoor, Abraham, Sutaria and Patani need to do some serious soul searching. J.D Chakravarthy’s cop Ganesan is perhaps the only sane character in the film, but he is bumped off early in the second half. The poor script was hard to endure for him too.

The playback music is nothing great. Mithoon’s absence is clearly felt. How do u explain lyrics that go by, “Maine tera naam Dil rakh diya‘ (I’ve named you heart). Maybe lyricist Kunaal Vermaa was inspired by Telugu producer Dil Raju’s parents. Manoj Muntashir’s Galliyan Returns, too, lacks the vibe of his original song Galliyan. Raju Singh’s loud background music is nauseating. It further accentuates the torrid show by its cast.

The buck stops at Mohit Suri. It was his idea to have the ek (one) villain return. It is his insipid story, abysmal screenplay, and direction that disappoints the Ek Villain loyalists. We fear the film will be met by gaalis [abuses] from every theatrical galliyan (streets).

During the last press meet, we spoke to a few pretty collegians, who were invited to cheer up the cast and root for the film. Having granted the chance to see the stars up close, are they tempted or compelled to watch an Ek Villain Returns [2022]? The smile gave way to a smirk and a little shake of the head. Dear Ektaa Kapoor, Mohit Suri hope you’re reading. This Villaintine’s Day, sadly, audience ki ‘shaamat’ (misfortune) aayi hai.

We were seriously contemplating on not reviewing this film, but Bhairav repeatedly says, “Five star rating dena mat bhoolna‘. (Don’t forget to give 5-star rating) . We gave it ek star at the start of this silly ride. Two hours later, our ek star rating remains intact.

Ek Villain Returns [2022] is currently running in theatres. Watch the trailer below.


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