Child trafficking tied up with a father-daughter bond
smacks of Liam Neeson’s Taken. And
our very own Devgn can match any Neeson in action, emotion, the whole package.
But that’s as an actor.
As a filmmaker, Ajay Devgn picks an interesting plot but
the screenplay by Sandeep Shrivastava is sluggish. Devgn takes his own time to
lay out a romance on the snowy Himalayan slopes between Shivaay and Olga, a
Bulgarian who speaks Hindi but is focused on going back home. But the
lovemaking after an avalanche gives Shivaay the one person he can call family –
a little daughter called Gaura.
It’s when he takes Gaura to meet her mother in Bulgaria
that he unwittingly crosses paths with child traffickers. The thriving trade
takes its revenge on Shivaay by picking up Gaura. And the chase begins.
By the way, the mountain man called Shivaay has
symbols of the lord tattooed all over him and when he destroys evil it’s with
an icicle shaped like a trishul.
The story affords plenty of action and Devgn packs it
in. But perhaps overdoes it too, as car chases go on forever and the climax
never seems to end.
The father-daughter bond that he establishes early would
have sufficed but the point is hammered home again when Anushka, a girl from
the Indian embassy, also has a single parent played by Girish Karnad.
The only entertainment comes from the many action pieces.
Saurabh Shukla, playing an Indian embassy official, makes a feeble attempt at something
comic about Biharis. Vir Das who plays a hacker peppers his lines with ‘mohatarma’ and ‘janab’ to establish his religious identity. On the other hand, when
Girish Karnad wobbles out of a wheelchair and says, ‘Kisiko to khada rehna padega,’ it comes out as more comic than
profound. The villain who conducts an imaginary opera, is also more cartoonish
than menacing. And, in a typical airport ending where emotions get neatly
wrapped up, Anushka’s sentimental speech arouses some more unintended laughter.
In this day of hackers and computer graphics which is
all over the film, Devgn has an Indian embassy official making a snarky remark about
Shivaay’s relationship with a Bulgarian girl without marriage figuring in it.
The Bulgarian cops too, indict him as a child nabber when one click on the
computer would have given them the lowdown on the hero and his daughter who’ve
come in with legitimate passports. It gives another unnecessary twist by
turning Shivaay into a fugitive with the Indian embassy doing little about it.
In an action film, there will be cinematic license
taken. But here’s a fugitive who knows Bulgaria and its underbelly better than
the authorities. He walks around with impunity, walking into the embassy girl’s
house at will or even into the cop station for one of the many climaxes. He’s
knifed, battered and butchered but he’s up and ready for battle the next
Pretty Erika Kaar as Olga is credible in the romance
but rings false as the distraught mother. Sayesha Saigal as Anushka is left
hanging at the end without a roundup to her character.
Ultimately, Ajay Devgn as actor scores over the
director. He should’ve cut to the chase as it were instead of long-winded
storytelling that goes on for 2 hrs and 49 minutes.
For a film that’ll thrill only action junkies, Shivaay gets a 2.5* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author