lack humor has few proponents in Bollywood. So when a new director like Sanjay Khanduri comes up with a story-based film, I viewed it with skepticism. When the film got off to a slow start I was sort of expecting it. And when it got really boring, I was sort of expecting that too. And just when I was ready to give up on it, it picked up. ECKLL has got to be the sleeper of the year.
OK, so thereâ€™s this yuppie guy Nilesh (Deol), who having had a few after-work beers with colleagues, misses the last local (1:40 am) to Vikhroli. Near the station, he meets a girl Madhu (Dhupia) whoâ€™s returning from a marriage function and has also missed her train. Thus, the two get-together (why exactly ? wasnâ€™t able to figure that out) and decide to wait for the train together. Hmm. . . and what better way to while away the time than to wait at a nearby seedy beer bar ? (Now I really have misgivings about the film ).
So theyâ€™re at the beer bar, where Nilesh meets old-time friend Pat, and a whole host of other characters/goons, and manages to get embroiled in a murder for which heâ€™s blamed ! Throw in a couple of other sub-plots involving ransom money, corrupt police officers and a gay mafia don and you have ECKLL. Yes, the story wonâ€™t win you a Pulitzer, but itâ€™s got enough twists and turns to keep one engrossed. The moment the murder happens, things perk up. And itâ€™s all uphill from there on.
The cast does well enough. Abhay Deol has proved himself before â€“ he was good in his debut film â€śSocha na thaâ€ť, and he performs just as well here too. The little flaws I noticed in his character Iâ€™m attributing to the not-so-perfect etching out of his role. Neha Dhupia has improved on her acting skills, and actually looks believable here. Vinay Apte is the understated South Indian goon Ponappa and Ashok Samarth a convincingly corrupt cop.
This is a plot-driven film, a film where a seemingly normal guy gets caught up in a world of, I wouldnâ€™t say abnormal, but stretching-the-norm kind of characters. Itâ€™s a very eclectic set ; they have their fetishes and they stick to them. You know â€“ the kind of characters that are so off-the-wall that they fit right in ? Well, theyâ€™re in this film. The story wends itâ€™s way around Mumbaiâ€™s underbelly â€“ the mafia, and their fights, corruption and prostitution. The mood of the film is dark, there is violence, and lots of expletives being casually thrown about. Still there are situations that make you laugh out loud, and silliness that gives rise to mirth.
Khanduri handles all this very well for a first-timer. The film is a bold, innovative effort. And yes, it might be rough around the edges, maybe all the tees arenâ€™t crossed and the Iâ€™s arenâ€™t dotted, and the film doesnâ€™t shine with the sheen of sophistication, but itâ€™s definitely headed in the right direction. Itâ€™s helped on itâ€™s way by fairly decent music; â€śLaree Chooteâ€ť is a hit, and the almost acapella style arrangement of â€śBheegi bheegi siâ€ť is catchy.
So yes, although Khanduri could polish his work a bit, this one deserves your time.