Ek Niranjan starts off like a good drink with great company on a cool weekend, but ends like a head-splitting hangover on a Monday morning. It almost looks like director Puri Jagannadh went for a break just before the climax and some rookie stepped in to botch it up and botch it up real bad.
Nevertheless, Puri has shown his talent in the first two hours where
the screenplay is engaging, the dialogues repeat worthy and the movie
moves at a brisk pace - almost like in a high speed non-step elevator.
It just stops with a thud, just one floor before the destination
thereby spoiling the fun.
It's official now. Puri has created a template for his movies and all he has to do is fill in the variables. So Pokiri (2006) becomes Ek Niranjan. Mahesh Babu is replaced by Prabhas. Pandu becomes Chotu, Ali Bhai is now Jaani Bhai and the distressed Ileana is the depressed Kangna. The basic elements remain the same. The orphan, the gangster, mindless firing, the miss in distress (and dis-dress too), the eccentric villains, the comic stereotypes, smart pistols, handcuffs, bastis, slums, chases, streets etc. Why, even Puri's lucky mascots - actor Ali, MMTS railway station and the sequence of the heroine fetching a homemade lunch for the hero are all there.
It is at the end of the movie that we are told Chotu's real name is Niranjan. The Ek is probably because he is a loner and like a Bairagi (Alak Niranjan), he is the Ek Niranjan. Oh yeah, we also like the way he happily lets go of the end without exactly showing how Chotu gets back to his parents but by simply showing Chotu's parents calling up Chotu requesting him to find their long lost son who was kidnapped by a druggie.
The movie is actually quite romantic in a sweet way - the way Pokiri was. There are no big dialogues between Chotu and Sameera proclaiming their undying love for each other. On the contrary, Chotu just tells Sameera to enter his mobile number in her phone as 'darling' and enter her name in his phone as 'honey.' The movie has little crumbs of humour - like how a little friend in Sameera's gang keeps imitating the famous actors and politicians of Andhra Pradesh and when Sameera screams in a shrill voice like a 1980s heroine "Maar Dalo Us Kaminey ko." The scene where Sameera utters the golden three words is also done well.
Prabhas suits the character to the hilt and is certain to storm back into his top three slot. He uses his drawl for which till recently he was criticized for and which now actually comes in handy when he has to answer back the baddies. The drawl makes him look nonchalant and enhances his devil-may-care attitude. However, his clothes could have been better at least in the songs and it has to be said he moves with ease in the title number of the film.
Sonu Sood, meanwhile, is the real star of the movie. If you were someone who was watching a Telugu movie for the first time, you would think Sood (spelt as Soodh in the movie, must be numerology) is the hero while Prabhas is the baddie. Sood also has the best clothes - satin floral shirts with silk scarves and leather jackets, the coolest cars and the best drinks while Prabhas only gets stone wash jeans and flea market shirts and the awful looking Kangna. Sood delivers a punch as the sadistic and eccentric villain. He spouts philosophy, cracks a joke or two occasionally and generally like a clown but with a lot of attitude. Sood's tone body and bleached face gives him the apt sinister look.
Puri is known for giving breaks to the best faces in Telugu. Ileana broke through with through Pokiri and Asin through Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi (2003) and even Rakshitha with Shivamani 9848022338 (2003). Kangna, however, is a bad choice. She is certainly Kangna run-out with her debut movie in Telugu. She looks like a night club singer in Goa with her frizzy hair and pale face. She is as apt as a Telugu girl living in a basti as Nandita Das would be, if she played a blonde in a Hollywood movie. Even in the songs, she looks more like a lifeless international super model you often see in those foreign fashion magazines. Minus ten points just for this!
Ali, Brahmanandam, Abhinayashree and Sunil put in a few moments of comedy. Makarand Deshpande, as the drug peddler, looks weird with his matted hair and Hindi accent.
Music by Mani Sharma shows flashes of brilliance - like the Ek Niranjan song and the Evaru Lerani melody. However, the club number that is a take-off on Michael Jackson's number makes no sense. It was composed the day he died, perhaps.
Shyam K Naidu's cinematography is good in the stunts and the romantic bits. His play of light, especially in the Evaru Lerani song suits the mood of the song. Some of the action sequences are good like the fight sequence in the dhobi ghat with clothes and the foam all over the place.
Overall, Ek Niranjan is a time pass movie with easy dialogues, breezy scenes, dizzy stunts, but a queasy climax and a cheesy end. Watch for fun and reasons none.