Mohit Suri is considered to be a great director. At least folks in the Hindi film industry think so. Or else, why has he been getting projects green-lit for nearly two decades? But, in my opinion, Suri has never made a good movie. “Zeher,” “Woh Lamhe,” “Raaz: The Mystery Continues,” “Crook,” “Murder 2”, “Aashiqui 2”, “Ek Villain,” “Hamari Adhuri Kahani,” “Half Girlfriend,” “Malang,” all of them are definitely not worth the time. They can’t even be enjoyed ironically because the overall craft and treatment of women are so horrible that it makes you want to puke your guts out. The verdict is still out on “Awarapan” because I haven’t watched it in a long time, and I remember it being good. After working for nearly 20 years, has Suri shown any sign of improvement or change via his latest movie on the block, “Ek Villain Returns”? No, absolutely not.
“Ek Villain Returns” is, surprisingly, a direct sequel to “Ek Villain” and is co-written and directed by Mohit Suri, along with co-writer Aseem Arrora. It starts with the murder or abduction of singer Aarvi (Tara Sutaria), and the alleged perpetrator is the son of a business tycoon, Gautam (Arjun Kapoor). They were evidently a couple before things went sour between the two, and hence it’s assumed that Gautam is a criminal. That’s when the second plot kicks in, which involves a taxi driver and a zookeeper named Bhairav (John Abraham), and an employee at a clothing store, Rasika (Disha Patani). He is a stalker, and she isn’t what he imagines her to be. Eventually, he realizes that his love for her is one-sided. So, he becomes a messiah for men and starts killing all those women who have “wrongfully” rejected him. Gautam and Bhairav cross paths for a spoiler-filled reason, and hijinks ensue.
Credit where credit is due, there’s a half-decent movie somewhere inside Mohit Suri and Aseem Arrora’s script. Both of them make an attempt to say that men cannot accept rejection and they’d rather support a misogynistic serial killer instead of doing the sane thing, i.e., moving on. They want to say that men will craft the most insane fantasies, which have the ability to warp their perception of reality instead of healing. And they also try to say something about people turning relationships into a race and how it’s counterproductive because there’s no winning or losing in love. But (and this is a big but), Suri and Aseem take such an asinine, disgusting, filthy, and, ironically, misogynistic route to tell their story that all those attempts at sending a message to the audience are washed away by the constant rain pouring in the movie. It’s as if they can’t help themselves from demeaning women.
The sad part here is that they could’ve let Rasika and Aarvi be strong characters. They are anyway stronger than both Gautam and Bhairav. Because, at the end of the day, Gautam is a spoiled man-child, and Bhairav is a one-note madman. Both Rasika and Aarvi are self-made women. Rasika is pretty straightforward and knows what she needs in her life. Heck, Aarvi remakes herself after a massive dent in her personal and professional life. But all these elements are glossed over so quickly that the only shades of these characters you’ll remember are the ones that are stereotypical in nature. As for the women who end up being Bhairav’s victims, they are largely shown through his demented perspective. You don’t get to see that they were just regular women since the focus is on showing how heartbroken Bhairav is. Which, at the cost of sounding repetitive, is counterproductive to the “message.” And so is the fridging (yes, there’s literal fridging of a character).
Let’s come to the overall craft on display. Spoiler alert: it’s all bad. For some reason, Mohit Suri thinks that if he has done non-linear storytelling more than once in his career, he has to keep doing it even if it’s detrimental to the story. “Ek Villain Returns” didn’t need to be broken up into three timelines. Yet it is, and the way editor Devendra Murdeshwar jumps back and forth is annoying at best and infuriating at worst. Vikas Sivaraman creates frames that’ll definitely look good in Instagram Reels and Twitter Fancams. On the big screen, they look tacky and cheap, which is aggravated by the VFX work. All the songs from “Ek Villain” were amazing. The only song from “Ek Villain Returns” that sticks is “Dil.” And can someone, for the love of whatever they consider holy, convince Suri that that’s not the way to make action scenes look like they’ve been done in one take? Or simply cure his obsession over faux-uncut action sequences.
Last but most probably the least, the acting department. Seriously, what can the best actors do in a movie like this? We saw what happened to Nawazuddin Siddiqui in “Heropanti 2,” didn’t we? That movie had Tara Sutaria in it. “Ek Villain Returns” also has Tara Sutaria in it. Is she on some kind of a mission to star in the worst movies possible? Is she fulfilling some kind of dare? If she’s not, she should definitely be more cautious about choosing scripts and start being part of films that will use her talent in a better manner. Arjun Kapoor has been in better movies than this (namely “Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar”). But nobody watched them. So, we have to tolerate this hammy performance of his. John Abraham gives the driest performance of his career. And then there’s Disha Patani. Kudos to her for still bagging roles even though her acting chops are limited to one-and-a-half expressions.
In conclusion, please watch “Ek Villain Returns” just for the unintentionally hilarious moments in the second half of the movie. Mohit Suri is so afraid that his audience won’t get his supremely intelligent film that he keeps spelling out everything that is happening on the screen. And the more he explains, the funnier it gets. Indian theaters do not allow alcohol. But the movie will eventually stream on Netflix. Do not, under any circumstances, try to play a drinking game where you take a shot every time someone says the word “villain.” You will be hospitalized before the movie reaches the 20-minute mark. Please do appreciate Shaad Randhawa’s hustle as he does the bare minimum in Suri’s films, hardly leaves a mark, and returns in the next film with that same energy. Also, J.D. Chakravarthi is in the film for some reason. Good for him. Anyway, give “Ek Villain Returns” a try since it’s so laughably bad that at least you won’t have a boring viewing experience.
“Ek Villain Returns” is a 2022 Indian Drama Thriller film directed by Mohit Suri.