Netflix Instant Files: One Me, and One You

ek main poster

I clicked on One Me, and One You (or Ek Main Aur Akk Tu, the untranslated title by which it goes on Netflix) one lazy Sunday afternoon.  I wasn’t expecting much, as I never do for my idle Netflix browsing, but I found myself more and more absorbed with each passing moment.  Only one thing kind of ruined the movie for me, and that was Netflix itself.

Ek Main is not a romantic comedy.  Don’t let Netflix fool you; it lists that as the film’s genre and in its summary describes the two leads as “lovers.”  That’s not true.  The only thing that kept me from loving the movie as much as I could have is that I expected a romance, and that’s not quite what I got.

parentsI know everyone’s definition could be different, but for me, a romantic comedy needs to end with the two leads together.  A story can still be a romance, if a depressing one, if something keeps them apart at the end, but if so I won’t attach the word “comedy” to the genre description.

That being said, Ek Main is a great movie.  It’s not diminished by not being a traditional romcom; I just wish I had known that going in, because I had unrealistic expectations.  So heed this: Ek Main is a lot of fun and you should watch it.  Just don’t expect a traditional fluffy ending; think of it more as a fun study of relationships.  Also, because I know many of you might wonder: unlike most Bollywood movies, this isn’t really a musical.  The characters only sing and dance once, in a scene that’s built into the plot.

Rahul Kapoor is one of those unfortunate children whose parents view him as a vicarious chance at a second life.  His father wants to mold Rahul to take over the family business, and his mother wants to craft a respectable man to show off to her socialite circles.  Nothing but perfection is good enough for them.  Rahul’s always followed his parents’ plan for his life.  He’s 25, living in Las Vegas, and working as an architect at a firm of his father’s choosing.

When Rahul loses his job, he doesn’t tell his parents.  When he’s disinterested in the girls they send his way, he doesn’t tell his parents.  When he can’t stand the businessmen they want him to schmooze, he doesn’t tell his parents.  He waits until they’ve gone back to India after their Christmas visit, and books an appointment with a psychiatrist.  He needs help figuring out what he actually wants out of life.

having drinksOn the way (and in the building’s elevator, and again in the office), Rahul meets Riana Braganza.  She’s just had a messy breakup, and needs someone to talk to about it, so going for therapy seemed the thing to do.  Based on Rahul’s awkward interactions with her, she thinks he’s one of her ex’s friends, that’s been spying on her.  That misunderstanding precipitates their first two meetings.  Yes, it’s a bit of a wacky-meet-cute.  Yes, Riana feels a bit like a manic pixie dream girl.

But she’s not.  Anyone would seem free-spirited in comparison to Rahul.  The guy can’t wear socks or underwear unless he’s ironed them first.   Riana’s more or less a normal person; she’s got some quirks, but she’s not a walking bundle of them.  And Rahul can’t stand Riana, let alone wanting her to “fix” him.  Riana gets him drunk because she thinks he needs to loosen up a little, and trust me, most of us would make the same decision; it would be doing the guy a favor.

All Riana wants is to buy Rahul a drink or two in apology, to help the tightly-wound man she’s inconvenienced relax a little for just one night.  After that, she’s content to let the two of them go their separate ways. There’s just one hitch in their plan: they get hammered, and then they get married.  Hey, it’s a romantic comedy set in Vegas, it was inevitable.

Here’s where I really like where the film starts going: both Riana and Rahul want an annulment, both of them are calm about doing so, they file it together right away, and at no point does either of them begin to change their mind about dissolving their marriage due to blossoming feelings.  I may have wanted to see these characters together, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re ready for a lifetime commitment to each other, and they both knew that.

dinnerInstead, the circumstances that keep throwing the two together develop their growing friendship first, before the romance.  For the first few days, Rahul can’t stand Riana. Then he recognizes fellow feelings for her.  They’re friends by the end of the week, and it’s only after he’s first seen her as a friend for a while that Rahul begins to fall for her.

Riana doesn’t feel the same way.  It came as a surprise to me when she didn’t, in part because I thought this was supposed to be a romantic comedy, and in part because she’s very close to him.  She calls Rahul her best friend, even though they’ve only known each other for about a week.

Objectively I really like where Ek Main goes with their relationship, and I would have adored it while watching if I hadn’t been set up to expect a love story.  When Rahul confesses how he feels, Riana has to reject him.  But it hurts her to do so, because she cares deeply for him as a friend and still wants him in her life.

Ek Main walks up to a controversial line, and then displays how a film can explore it in a mature, thoughtful way.  The concept of the “friend zone” (though these words are never used in the movie) has been getting a lot of justified heat lately.  Too often the media sets up stories where a man has feelings for a woman, but she doesn’t return them, and he chafes at her wanting to be “just friends.”  There’s an air of expectation to the characters, as if the woman owes it to the man to be interested in him just because he is in her.

bull ridingRahul does get upset at Riana when she rejects him.  But I can’t blame the guy for being confused: Riana insisted that Rahul accompany her halfway across the world back to her parents’ home in India for New Year’s.  Meeting the family over the holidays?  It’s understandable how someone could get the wrong message from that.

In the heat of the moment, Rahul is kind of mean to Riana.  That’s not cool, but it’s also realistic.  People are flawed, after all.  What I love is that after Rahul calms down, he does the adult thing and is the one to go back to her to apologize.

Rahul’s confession is handled the way it would be for most real-life adults in that situation: both parties are embarrassed and need some time alone to work through their feelings and the shift in their relationship, but then they’re able to go back and talk through their situation.

Then there’s the ending.  Like I’ve said, Rahul and Riana don’t get together.  In Rahul’s concluding narration, he says that he holds out hope that one day, he will get her to agree to marry him for real.  I’m not sure how I feel about that: on the one hand, I entered this movie thinking it was a romance, so I want to see the characters together.  On the other, Riana’s made her feelings clear.  I don’t like the idea that Rahul always might have an ulterior motive in his interactions with her.

I like that the film made me question my feelings about the two characters.  In hindsight, I would have been happier if Ek Main had ended with its leads firmly as friends, without hinting that one might still want something more down the line.  It works, though, because life is messy.  Rahul fell in love with Riana, and that’s something the two of them are always going to have to face.

date?Because of how he ultimately handled Riana’s reaction to his confession, I believe that Rahul isn’t ever going to pressure Riana to return his feelings.  He might not be able to get rid of the hope that they’ll become more, but he’ll content himself with being Riana’s best friend, and won’t push her for anything else.

Ek Main leaves its viewers with more questions than answers.  We know that the main couple remains as friends, and that for the moment (or possibly always), that’s all Riana wants.  We wonder as to why: is it because she just had a messy breakup, and is done with men for the moment, as she swears?  Is it because she just met Rahul?  Or will she never be interested in him (which is just as right and valid)?  Life is rarely so clear-cut as it is in the movies.  I really like that Ek Main plays with the messy nature of love, of friendship, and of relationships.

 

Watch Ek Main Aur Akk Tu on Netflix Instant, or find the DVD on Amazon.