Director: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Manoj Bajpayee, Rakul Preet Singh
Aiyaary deals with national security, political corruption and patriotism all of which sound familiar when it comes to Neeraj Pandey's style of working. Over the years, the director has proved his mettle in crafting films, such as A Wednesday, Baby and Special 26 along the lines of these themes. But does this give him the right to take the genre for granted?
Also written by Pandey, Aiyaary revolves around two Indian army officers Major Jai Bakshi (Sidharth Malhotra) and Colonel Abhay Singh (Manoj Bajpayee), the latter of whom heads a covert operation team whose fundings are debated. Jai and Abhay share a wonderful bond, until one day the former gets frustrated after witnessing corruption in defence procurement. Extremely disappointed by the system, Jai goes rogue and decides to make money for himself by joining hands with an ex-army officer. Abhay, on the other hand, is resolute in wanting to abolish Jai’s mission.
Unlike Pandey’s other films, there is a sense of flatness in Aiyaary. Apart from a few scenes, the movie seems to be randomly constructed and fails to evoke any thrill. Though the plot does give vibes of “Neeraj Pandey” movie, it loses touch with reality after a point.
The first half of the film is scattered to an extent that it gets difficult to focus on something selective. It’s basically devoid of meaning and continuously upsets expectations. As if all this was not enough, there are many scenes in the film that serve no purpose to the plot and detract you from the story for no substantial reason. Sidharth and Rakul Preet Singh’s forced romance is one such example.
Sidharth may be the lead actor in the film but his act and screen time in the movie only suggest he’s a sidey. His performance as Major Jai Bakshi is equally confused and unconvincing in the film. His romantic angle with Rakul also feels icky. It’s only when Manoj Bajpayee starts his game that we begin to feel directly involved in the movie. Bajpayee’s solid acting skills seem to be the only saving grace of this disappointing film. He carries the entire film on his shoulder. It’s the strong and quirky screen presence of the man that keeps the audience rooting for him till the end.
Pandey has tried hard to show the mirror to corrupt politicians by using lines like “Jis issues se kuch logon ka faayeda ho ussey solve nahi karte balki barkaraar rakhte hai,” but unfortunately his direction lacks bite and depth.
The film also boasts an excellent supporting cast, including Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Adil Hussain. But do they help the film in any way? Well, I don’t think so. I personally feel these veterans are under-utilized in the movie. Kher’s character is as useless as the timing of the romantic track Lae Dooba in the movie.
In short, Aiyaary wasn’t just required in Neeraj Pandey’s filmography.