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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
A magnificent debut by director Sriram Raghavan with stunning performances by the lead artists, 24 February 2004

From the production house of Ram Gopal Varma comes another powerful film about love, hatred, passion and revenge. "Ek Hasina Thi" is director Sriram Raghavan's debut film but you wouldn't be able to tell that after viewing this film. He puts other experienced Indian directors to shame with his debut film. He even surprasses Ram Gopal Varma at his own game.

"Ek Hasina Thi" tells a story of Sarika - a simple, working-class woman who seems to be content with her life until her chance encounter with a suave, ultra-cool individual - Karan. She falls in love with him and dreams of a future bliss, marital life. From there on, however, Sarika's world is completely turned upside down. Saying any more would ruin the premise of the film, not to mention, the experience of watching it, but I highly doubt any Bollywood film this year will make an impact on me the way "Ek Hasina Thi" did.

One of the major aspects that makes "Ek Hasina Thi" so powerful are the performances by the lead actors. Both of them, Saif and Urmila, give the performances of their careers. Saif Ali Khan, who is suddenly on a white-hot streak with films like "Dil Chahta Hai", "Darna Mana Hai", and the recent "Kal Ho Naa Ho" easily gives the finest performance of his career. Usually, in hindi films, villainous characters are shown to be mere caricatures - a snarl here, a facial contortion there, etc., but Saif Ali Khan plays Karan Rathod in such a subtle, cool, and horrifying real manner that the viewer almost sympathizes with him. If you thought he was great in "Dil Chahta Hai" and "Kal Ho Naa Ho", you will be completely unprepared for his volatile, brilliant performance here. Truly an award-worthy act. Urmila, who is getting much praise for her films in 2003, actually gives her career-best performance as well in "Ek Hasina Thi". In most of her films, Urmila tends to overact even when the character doesn't call for it. But, in "Ek Hasina Thi", Urmila goes through a wide array of emotions and does it very convincingly. Some of the prison sequences are heart-wrenching simply because of Urmila's act. Also, the initial scenes where Saif and Urmila meet are some of the best scenes in the film. They share such an intense and real chemistry. Bravo to both actors for portraying their characters so effectively.

As mentioned, director Sriram Raghavan gives the best debut film I've seen in years. Some of the camera angle, quick cuts, stylish close-ups he employs are just wonderful. There are no songs in the film, thankfully, which makes "Ek Hasina Thi" a much better viewing experience. The screenplay by Pooja Ladha Surti is solid. C.K. Muralidharan's cinematography is fantastic - probably better than any film Ram Gopal Varma has been associated with. Editing by Sanjib Datta is superb. Some of the cuts he makes are really innovative. Finally, Amar Mohile's background score is just excellent. It really suits the mood of the film. "Ek Hasina Thi" is easily Varma's finest production. In fact, "Ek Hasina Thi" is even better than Varma's own film - "Company". I look forward to seeing what Sriram Raghavan has to offer us next. "Ek Hasina Thi" is a film that should not be missed by anyone who appreciates intelligent, different, and profound cinema.