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The Kapoors have always wanted their only son Rahul (Imran Khan) to be a go-getter and have groomed him appropriately since childhood. But when Rahul is sacked from his new job in Las Vegas around Christmas, he is compelled to visit a psychotherapist to give vent to his insecurities. There he meets Riana Braganza, a hair stylist who has recently broken up with her boyfriend. Riana and Rahul bond over drinks and paint the town red on Christmas eve. The next morning, they discover that during their drunken spree last night, they got married. They decide to annul the marriage but due to Riana's inability to pay rent, her landlord evicts her and she lands up with Rahul again. Then a friendship develops between them over the course of the next few days which includes a trip to India. Written by
A charming antidote to standard Valentines' Day fare...
When "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" rolled out just in time for Valentines' Day, it appeared to be another romantic trifle designed for parting swooning fools from their disposable income. I'm glad the timing of its release and cutesy poster didn't put me off, for it's actually a beast of different stripe.
For a start, Imran Khan heart-throb du jour of young girlsis not cast in heroic vein. He plays Rahul Kapoor, only offspring of an over-achieving architect father and a socialite mother. An amusing opening montage shows various types of kids: goody-two shoes, hell-raisers in angel guise, rebels looking for a cause, and so on. And then we have Rahul. From infancy, he's been told exactly what to do and how to do it. His own aptitudes don't matter for his father wants a miniature high-achieving clone of himself, while Mom is preoccupied with the pursuit of eternal youth. When the tot announces he's won a silver medal for swimming, his father witheringly corrects him, "No, what you did was lose the gold." Unsurprisingly, Rahul grows up into a permanently browbeaten youth with a pathological compulsion for neatness and a passion for ironing his socks. Precisely the kind to sweep girls off their feet
Dispatched to Las Vegas by Dad to intern at a big American firm as a preliminary step to becoming India's next architectural wunderkind, Rahul gets fired and doesn't know how to break it to his parents. That very day, they fly in to spend Christmas with him. Can a young man's life get more excruciatingly wretched? Why, yes, because his folks haul him off to the Christmas party from hell. A horrified Rahul gets unsolicited sex advice from Dad's loudmouthed friend, while the friend's new wife (hello, Mrs. Robinson) gropes his bum. Rahul makes a run for it, knocking over a waiter with an enormous platter, causing everybody to stare. Rahul's parents look pained. More withering looks follow and they depart for India in a gust of disappointment.
When Rahul encounters Riana Braganza, a free-spirited hairstylist, similarly unemployed, he feels compelled to prove he is no snore-inducer. Bolstered by copious quantities of alcohol, he loosens up and actually has fun. In a boozy blur, they impulsively get married at a chapel officiated by an Elvis impersonator.
This is no unacknowledged rip-off of "What Happens in Vegas"it turns into something else entirely: a sweet-natured, generous-hearted reflection on human follies. Told they have to wait until the New Year for an annulment, Rahul and Riana return to India for a week. The Las Vegas location seemed arbitrary because the lead pair must get hitched in a hurry for the story to move forward it's when the action shifts to India that the film hits its stride.
In Bombay, Rahul witnesses another type of family: boisterous fun, affectionate, supportive with no secrets or lies. The Braganzas take him into their bosom, and he blossoms into a fairly agreeable young man with sporadic bursts of confidence. Does this mean boy and girl will now fall in love and decide to remain married? It would be wrong to reveal any more, but suffice to say this is a charming antidote to the cloying sugariness of usual Valentines' Day fare.
Kareena Kapoor's Riana Braganza has certain shades of Geet, the character she played to perfection in "Jab We Met", but they are sufficiently unalike to hold one's interest. With scarlet streaks in her locks, a well-moisturized complexion, and a junior miss wardrobe, 32-year old Kareena does a pretty persuasive job of projecting youthful spontaneity and her pairing with the boyish Imran Khan doesn't jar. But, honey, it might be more fun to play women as opposed to girls look at the blast Vidya Balan's having these days.
Imran Khan does a sterling job of playing squishedit's genuinely delightful watching him perk up as the film progresses. Ratna Pathak Shah and he reprise their mother-son roles (Ratna was Imran's mom in "Jaane Tu ya Jaane Naa"), but the relationship they share couldn't be more dissimilar. Here Ratna doesn't have a single nurturing bone in her sleek well-toned bod. She's very funny as the self-absorbed, vain socialite, deliciously glamorous in a number of fashion forward looks. She made me laugh aloud when Imran finally has a cathartic meltdown at a dinner party, venting his rage at constantly being infantilized, a perplexed Ratna asks, "But what's wrong with chopsticks?" How I would love to see Ratna play Amanda Prynne in "Private Lives" oppositewho else?Naseeruddin Shah as Elyot Chase in a Hindi version of that evergreen Noel Coward drawing-room comedy. Boman Irani is wonderfully off-putting as the severe, perpetually disapproving father whose first instinct is to scowl.
In a small cameo, Soniya Mehra (the late Vinod Mehra's daughter?) is a hoot as the extremely amorous date who decides to have her way with the cowering Imran.
Riana's large and loving family all new to me, did fine work, especially her plump fun-loving dad completely devoid of tact. I also loved her toothless granny, tottering at the edge of dementia.
If one had to quibble, I would point to the cultural stereotypes the film plays on: Riana's laid-back tolerant family drinks, smokes, doesn't get bent out of shape over premarital sex they're Christians, you seemaligned in India for their loose morals and tight clothing. But here they're the good guys, so that would just be me being tetchy - pay no heed.
Karan Johar has shrewdly mentored a number of fledgling filmmakers, and Shakun Batra,who co-wrote (with Ayesha DeVitre, hairstylist/writera truly uncommon hyphenate) and directs this film, proves yet again that Johar has impeccable instincts for choosing producing projects. Shakun's film has an authentic voice and tone and his characters are endearingly flawed, funny, and very human.
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