EK – THE POWER OF ONE is vintage Bollywood masala, flooded with action, drama, comedy, and of course romance. Unfortunately, like most in its category, it fails to leave any lasting impact thanks to a very familiar tale wrapped in an oversimplified script.
The story chronicles the split life of orphaned criminal Nandu (Bobby Deol), who is hired by Maharashtran Opposition Leader Anna (Sachin Khedekar) to stage a fake assassination attempt in order to gain sympathy from the masses. However, before Nandu is able to pull the trigger, another fateful shot takes the life of Anna, transforming a slimy political trick into a full-on murder case.
With the police fresh on his trail, Nandu escapes their grasp by catching a train to Punjab where he runs into Puran Singh (Akshay Kapoor) – a down-to-earth twenty-six year old on his way to reunite with his estranged family after eighteen long years. At one of the stops, an officer spots Nandu and takes a shot that accidentally strikes Puran, killing him on the spot. Nandu reaches Puran's village to deliver the grave message, but before he can say anything the family mistakes him for their beloved Puran. Unwilling to break their hearts, Nandu continues the charade and is soon enveloped by the family's warmth and love. All the while, witty CBI Inspector Rane (Nana Patekar) is hot on Nandu's trail. Will Nandu surrender his true identity to the family? Will Nandu be prosecuted for a crime he did not commit? These are some of the burning questions that develop throughout the film.
Director Sangeeth Sivan is one who is more for the mindless comedies (Kya Kool Hai Hum, Apna Sapna Money Money). And although EK is mindless in parts, it deviates markedly from Sivan's familiar territory. The categorical schism shows considerably in Sivan's execution, or lack thereof. Apart from a dispassionate directorial front, the film relies on a story that has unfolded several times before. Pankaj Trivedi's unbalanced script is unable to save the narrative from the trenches of predictability.
The screenplay limps at a sluggish pace throughout much of the running time. Editor Chirag Jain seems to have nodded off a time or two, as the film could have easily been trimmed by 20-30 minutes to create a more symmetrical product. Action by Peter Heins is very amateur, with many fight sequences lasting much too long.
Performances do little in pushing EK above the lines of mediocrity. It's sad to see Bobby Deol, a man belonging to a lineage of great actors, struggle endlessly in his lackluster career. Career aside, Bobby has yet to deliver a single breakthrough performance (closest being his work in 1997's Gupt). Once again Bobby fails to create any sort of connection with the viewer, resorting to a wooden tough-guy image we've seen him attempt time and time again. His poorly written character doesn't help his cause either, developing unevenly from start to finish.
Nana Patekar, as CBI Inspector Rane, was a distantly glimmering bright spot. Thanks to limited screen time, Nana too is unable to create a place for himself in the film. Nevertheless, he flaunts his versatility with an impressive subtle comedic performance. The supporting cast is average, with Kullbushan Kharbanda as Puran's grandfather stepping furthest in front.
When it's all over, you really don't know what EK – THE POWER OF ONE set out to achieve. Because of a heavily disjointed outline, its climactic culmination ends rather unconvincingly. If Sangeeth Sivan had to choose between such a masala potpourri and mainstream comedy, I regrettably choose comedy.