Aw bless. It tries hard. It really does. With a supposedly deep and seemingly multi-layered con story (that also tries to con viewers as well as various characters in the plot), “ Ek Haseena Ek Khiladi” ends up going out of its depth and into silly territory. Apparently, it has lifted some story ideas from a bunch of Hollywood films (like a Dustin Hoffman flick called “Confidence”), none of which I have seen.
Fardeen Khan’s drawling voice-over is clearly inspired from classic film noirs. In the first scene itself, he is shot dead by a mystery person. As he lies on the street bleeding to death, he reminisces on just how he got there in the first place. The whole noir ambience almost had me expecting him to say, “Of all the hearts in the world, she had to shoot a bullet into mine” (as a take-off on the famous line from “Casablanca”).
The entire plot is so full of daft twists and turns that it is impossible to speak about it without giving anything away. Suffice to say, everything is not what it seems.
The faintly interesting but ultimately bonkers finale twist raises a lot of questions such as “if they were pretending then why were they acting as if it was real even when nobody was there?” Do you get my drift? And the “but it’s not really like that at all, it’s something else!” plot method really makes you wonder if it’s meant to apologise for some of the atrocious acting as seen here. So that we can conclude “Ah yes, the acting may be bad but their characters were also acting within the story and so the bad acting could be part of the character description!” Do you still get my drift? Are you still there?
As a con movie, “Ek Haseena Ek Khiladi” is plagued with unconvincing con acts. The bank con at the beginning arranged by Arjun (Fardeen Khan) and Rohit (Rohit Roy) is laughable. The consequences of this particular con lead to Rohit’s death and it leaves Arjun at the mercy of the hands of feared gangster, Sikander (Gulshan Grover). Arjun begins work for Sikander and is joined by Kaif (Kay Kay Menon) and Natassha the Dozy Doctor (Koena Mitra).
Natassha is an incredibly irresponsible doctor to be walking into unprofessional situations that a normal doctor would stay away from. Ah, the twist apologises for this loophole and comes up with an explanation anyway. Oh well, that’s alright then. They’re alright, you’re alright and I’m alright!
There is a cool n’ corny retro vibe that is becoming typical of thrillers nowadays. The corny element even extends to the editing aspect as some shots are linked by a rotating gold coin. The characters roll the coins and viewers roll their eyes in disbelief. The set-up is intentionally camp (but not affectionately camp). It is intentionally and knowingly camp in a smug manner – the same problems that afflicted two earlier releases of this year “Chocolate” and “Karam”. Incidentally, “Karam” was scripted by the director of “Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena” – Suparn Verma.
The villains are all stuck in a time warp. It is as if they have just sprinted out of a time machine straight from a long-gone era of Hindi cinema. Feroz Khan is especially guilty of this and plays his part as if he is a pirate on a haunted ship. “Ahoy me hearties!” …No, he doesn’t say that but he does get to spout English inanities like “Mmm, I love the scent of a woman…” It sounds very creepy coming from a man who looks a fright after splashing out on bottles of eye kohl.
A script that is full of meandering dialogues with vague meanings does not help us. Arjun takes the words out of our mouths when he asks Sardesai (Sharad Kapoor), “Tera point kya hai?” He brings up the question after he is forced to listen to an anecdote about a man, God and a lion. With an exception for Kay Kay Menon, none of the performers are strong enough to make the dialogues look good. While Fardeen Khan is strictly okay, Koena Mitra and Feroz Khan come up with the weakest performances.
In conclusion, “Ek Haseena Ek Khiladi” may try hard to be very exciting and unpredictable but as the final twist dawns, it becomes clear that all of it is hogwash anyway and should not be taken seriously.