Every movie sets a canvas that it needs to paint on. A romcom movie in the valentine week is our first brief for Ek Main aur Ekk Tu (EMAET) and that sets a light breezy note to the film. So how well did a debut director Shakun Batra paint on this often used canvas? Imran Khan (whose first movie as a lead, we saw 8 years after Kareena Kapoor's) and Kareena Kapoor is an interesting pairing so can they keep the spunk of the romcom genre alive? Those are the question that everyone has on their mind when they enter the movie hall...
An edgy architect who has grown up with all the right behaviour but not thoughts, meets a happy-go-lucky carefree hairstylist who is just out of a breakup. They drink, get married and realize the next day that they need to annul the marriage. The story is a 15 day tale of the affair and travels between Mumbai and Las Vegas. It is a romcom in looks and a coming-of-age movie at heart. There is a scene, just before the intermission, where the two leads, Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) and Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor) are lying on the bed talking to each other. Rahul says that he is 25 and he still believes that one morning he will wake up and understand everything. But it never happens. The movie is about him making it happen. Can he conjure the strength to face his parents with the truth of his life? The plot by Shakun Batra and Ayesha Devitre of the film is as old and as guessable from promos as it might come.
The movie starts by describing 3 types of children – “Maa baap ke chamche”, “rebels” and “smartass” and somewhere in the movie Rahul the protagonist, gives a similar classification of parents – those who allow candies and cola and those who don’t. Now a combination of this is what we will call stereotypes, and a combination of this is what each of the character in the movie is like. Moreover there are a flurry of supporting characters that are cliched but nicely etched - like the one of a wealthy businessman and his wife who keeps hitting on young Rahul, and that of Riana's family who like her, are all happy-go-lucky type and that of the girl whom the protagonist dated once. What makes the movie special is the way it develops these characters and details them.
Imran Khan's suave face and looks suit the dominated directionless son of urbane parents. Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah work like a charm in their respective roles. They make the stereotyped character live through them. Actors playing roles of Riana's family, especially the charming father are all aptly casted. Ram Kapoor as Mr.Bulani, who tries to be big brother to Rahul teaching him everything from Kapalbharti to sex does fit the role well too. But one actor who makes the movie delicious is spunky Kareena Kapoor. She brings the same verve to Riana that she brought to the character of Geet in Jab We Met but with subtle maturity. Riana is more thoughtful but less vulnerable than Geet. Her chemistry with the younger Imran is also quite believable. The casting of each of the characters is so good that Nandini Shrikent, the casting director should be given a special mention.
Equally commendable are the dialogues and screenplay. It keeps the ball rolling throughout the movie. The maturity of the screenplay and the stunning manner in which it has been shot makes you want to take your hats off to those people behind it. The movie never goes over the top with anything and keeps the proceedings and important points very subtle. Like the time when you see Rahul taking off his sport shoes and wearing the leather ones, to represent his mind coming back to what he has been taught. Another special shot is at the time of the final outburst of Rahul, you see a young teenager sitting on the other side of the table. One whom you know would grow up to be what Rahul is and the subtle interaction between the two is priceless. Or the last scene where the two protagonist sit together on the stairs of a school and there is a unified shadow on the steps. It’s all subtle and smart. The movie has many such examples. Two thumbs up for the writers Shakun Batra and Ayesha DeVitre for this. The latter (who has been a hair stylist for a major part of her career) lends her character in a way to Riana, and that makes it work like magic. The movie has quite a few references to haircuts that you see the connection quite clearly.
Cinematography by David Macdonald is very polished and the editing by Asif Ali Shaikh is perfect - none of the scene stay beyond what you want it to. Bosco Martis' choreography gives the actors an extra space to show their chemistry particularly in the foot-tapping "Auntyji" which sounds splendid on screen. You feel good when the uptight architect Rahul goes on to dance to this tune with zeal. Amit Trivedi's music and Amitabh Bhattacharya's lyrics are another highlight of the film. Throughout the movie none of the songs look forced and gel beautifully with the narrative of the film - the title track “EMAET”, “Gubbarein” and “Ahatein” all provide the right warmth.
Coming back to the original question about the canvas? Perhaps the only negative about this film is that it did not give itself a big enough canvas to paint on. But what it did paint was nonetheless beautiful. EMAET is light, breezy, well picturized, well-acted and subtly mature film that achieves all it sets out to do. It is what Riana would call a "perfectly average" movie!