A “hell-hath-no-fury” thriller centered on a woman betrayed by a smooth-talking criminal, “Ek hasina thi” is a qualified success from the Ram Gopal Varma factory. Local auds — in an apparent backlash against Varma’s no-musical-numbers crusade — didn’t sustain this one much beyond its first week in January. Offshore, it’s largely for Bollywatchers, who’ll groove on Saif Ali Khan playing against type as a villain and Urmila Matondkar also broadening her range as the distaff stalker.
Travel agent Sarika (Matondkar) falls for cocky charmer Karan (Khan), even though he’s clearly a man with something to hide. (Script’s main weakness is believing an independent woman like Sarika would fall for his spiel.) Sent down for seven years when one of Karan’s schemes rebounds on her, Sarika initially endures jail out of love but later toughens up and breaks out when she realizes Karan used her. Some clever developments in the final act, as Sarika in turn hoodwinks Karan, keep the plotting fresh, and pic as a whole has a well-tooled forward drive. Khan is consistently charismatic but Matondkar (“Bhoot,” “Pinjar”) more variable. Title means “Once There Was a Beauty.”