In Puri Jagannadh's spice-ridden world, women are entities that are either helpless and simpering, or accessible enough to tramps who make X-rated passes at them. And if it's someone's mother, she's both. Either way, it's no fun.
It's surely less fun than being the loner-hero, anyway. Because that about translates to being the most eligible bachelor in town - it's the loner who gets the most superhuman of strength, the cleverest lines and the coolest songs. And, thus, the hottest babe.
Chotu (Prabhas) was stolen from his crib when he was a baby, and falls into the hands of a vagrant called Chidambaram (Makrand Deshpande) who makes children beg. One day, Chotu tips off the cops and lands Chidambaram in jail, and discovers that he can get paid for this sort of thing.
The pleasures of bounty-hunting thus discovered, Chotu makes money dragging criminals to the police. One of his assignments takes him to the den of Johnny (Sonu Sood), who's just finished master-minding the murder of a politician.
He falls in love with Sameera (Kangana Ranaut), the impoverished sister of one of the fugitives he's running after. In the background of the story is a friendly couple in Sameera's neighbourhood, who're really Chotu's parents. There's also Chidambaram, who's out of jail after a decade and a half - he's the only one who knows who Chotu's folks are, but refuses to spill the secret.
Since Ek Niranjan announces its basic theme right at the beginning - that it is the story of how a kidnapped child gets back to his parents - you don't expect creative daring in the plot. The film consistely behaves like a formula lunch box, with no surprises.
There are a few logic issues - Chotu landing in Bangkok without any explanation behind the operations of his travel, for example. And, in case you didn't see this coming, there's a lot of violence, especially in the second half.
Chotu's zappy dialogues and Johnny's droll depravity remind you that there's indeed someone who's put thought into scripting the proceedings. Sonu Sood, then, sews up a sparkling role that gives him screen presence on par with that of the hero.
The main track and its screenplay are much wittier than the comedy tracks. Brahmanandam, Ali and Venu Madhav play out jokes that are functionally dead, and lewd a lot of the time, and do nothing to take the focus away from the rest of the story. Sunil, however, whizzes by with some cute antics - but again, he makes his entry on a bawdy premise.
Ek Niranjan is as much Sonu Sood's film as it is Prabhas', to be fair. Sood's wild-coloured wardrobe and his eccentric sadism actually redefine camp. And it's fun to see him go the Prakash Raj way of villainy.
And Prabhas is pretty spontaneous - his character has a casual cheer, that he's capable of carrying off quite easily. He's even made to shed a few tears in one scene, and it's a relief to have an actor do that without appearing to overdo it.
Kangana Ranaut, with her European looks, curls and dressing, is as incongruous as the shade of her lipstick. Sameera actually stands out like a sore thumb in the story - which starved music teacher dresses up like that, in a run-down neighbourhood at that? She's given as many "help!!!" scenes as a Tollywood potboiler can tolerate without splitting at its seams, and while she's not inept with the acting, her dubbing wasn't taken care of at all.
The baddies' band also has Mukul Dev and Brahmaji among others, who do well. Makrand Deshpande is an interesting watch, but that's about it to his role. Tanikella and Sangeetha are seasoned performers, and their roles should have been given more closure. Posani's fans have a little fun, though.
The title song steals the show, of course. A lot of the other songs are packed into the first half, and they're good to sit through. Puri's technical values are in place, though there's been too much effort on glossing up Kangana's look.
There aren't too many new ways you can narrate a story like this one. Ek Niranjan is fun cinema in its own way, but if you have a better movie to rush to, we won't stop you.