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T-Series and Balaji Telefilms Pictures’ Ek Villain Returns (UA) is a spiritual successor to Ek Villain (2014).

Some girls are murdered in mysterious circumstances. The needle of suspicion points towards Gautam (Arjun Kapoor) who is the arrogant son of a rich businessman (Bharat Dabholkar). One of the other suspects, Bhairav (John Abraham), soon becomes a prime suspect — at least for the audience. As the drama progresses, Gautam’s girlfriend, Aarvi (Tara Sutaria), goes missing. Who is actually behind the murders and the disappearance of Aarvi? Is it Gautam or Bhairav or both of them? And what is the reason for so many murders? Where is Aarvi? Is she alive but missing or is she dead?

Mohit Suri and Aseem Arora have penned a half-baked story and screenplay which are also terribly confusing. The first half is so shabbily written that the audience can’t fathom what exactly is happening. The post-interval portion is more intriguing but the suspense angle is weak. Besides, even the second half is confusing because of the various tracks and flashbacks. The revelation of the suspense is devoid of thrill because it is not as if the audience is rooting for Bhairav or Gautam. In other words, it doesn’t really make a difference to the viewers whether the killer is Bhairav or Gautam or someone else. This is because the writers have not been able to make the viewers take sides. The revelation of the suspense about Bhairav’s girlfriend, Rasika (Disha Patani), is also devoid of thrill. The character of Bhairav is quite weird because he is shown to be buying expensive stuff from high-end malls although he is just a cabbie! Furthermore, the weirdest part is that Bhairav behaves like a messiah of sorts but there comes a time when Gautam (for whom Bhairav is supposed to be a messiah) considers him to be anything but a messiah. The screenplay is so poorly written that although the audience feels that Bhairav could be the killer, Bhairav never really becomes the prime suspect for the police! In fact, the police investigations are so half-hearted that they look like a joke. Aseem Arora’s dialogues are good at places but not consistently so.

John Abraham performs with one fixed expression on his face. It is anything but intense acting which is what the role required. Arjun Kapoor delivers an average performance as Gautam. Disha Patani looks sexy and acts well in the role of Rasika. Tara Sutaria is alright as Aarvi. Shaad Randhawa is very ordinary as police inspector Rathod. As police officer Ganeshan, J.D. Chekravarthy does a routine job. Ritesh Deshmukh’s special appearance doesn’t add anything to the insipid and boring drama. Bharat Dabholkar, Elena Roxana (as Qiran), Karishma Lala (as Maria Fernandes), and the others lend average support.

Mohit Suri’s direction is not up to the mark. The thrill and excitement which are integral to a suspense drama are conspicuous by their absence. Music (Ankit Tiwari, Tanishk Bagchi and Kaushik-Guddu) is good but not super-hit. The ‘Teri galiyaan’ song (of Ek Villain) is the best number. The ‘Dil’ song has excellent melody. Lyrics (Manoj Muntashir, Tanishk Bagchi and Kunaal Verma) are alright. Raju Khan’s choreography is routine. Raju Singh’s background music is quite effective. Camerawork (by Vikas Sivaraman) is very good. Aejaz-Gulab’s action and stunt scenes are reasonably nice. Rajat Poddar’s production designing is appropriate. Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing is loose.

On the whole, Ek Villain Returns is a very ordinary fare and not at all a worthy successor to Ek Villain. Its music (‘Teri galiyaan’ and ‘Dil’ songs) is its biggest plus point. The youth may like the film for its edginess and music but that will not be enough for it to emerge victorious at the box-office.

Released on 29-7-’22 at Inox (daily 12 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay thru AA Films. Publicity: good. Opening: very ordinary. …….Also released all over. Opening was below the mark at many places and average at some others.