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Aiyaary  : Aila, More A Mess Than A Mystery
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Friday, February 16, 2018
Neeraj Pandey
Siddharth Malhotra, Manoj Bajpayee, Rakul Preet, Pooja Chopra, Adil Hussain, Kumud Mishra, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher

Writer-director Neeraj Pandey whipped up so much curiosity over the title, Aiyaary. After a laborious watch of 160 minutes, one wishes the film too had enough intrigue to keep one interested all through.


Major Jai Bakshi of the Indian Army has gone rogue and his mentor Colonel Abhay Singh who has been trained by Israel’s Mossad, wants to hunt him down.


When two highly-skilled officers from a special unit, international arms dealers and the top brass of the Indian army are brought together, one would expect deft, intelligent moves and manoeuvres.


But an entire first half flits from Delhi to Cairo and London without going anywhere.And the same going-nowhere feeling persists post the popcorn break too. There’s no cat-n-mouse, edge-of-the-seat elementin the hunt and except for phone-tapping to collect information, there’s nothing smart going on at any time.


The writing is so routine that what the mentor and the protegemean to each other is told in a flashback each. Neeraj Pandey employs the same ploy to rewind to how Jai and his girlfriend met and fell in love. There is a similar lack of effort even in an ambush that’s filmed without a thrill. 


A conspiracy film without smart thinking, fast action or twists and turns, ends up as a plot that plods. The absence of romance, emotions, music or a credible story that leads somewhere all add up to a major disappointment.Having Jai deliver a lecture on corruption in high places is really not the revelation of the decade.


There are precisely two scenes where aiyaary or the art of changing shape and look is done well. One where Manoj Bajpayee as Colonel Abhay Singh disguises himself as a crazy old, homeless man on the street. Another where Sidharth Malhotra as Major Jai Bakshi dolls up as a woman in a wheelchair.


One solitary dialogue that’s worth a repeat comes from the mentor who says Kashmir is not the name of a place. It’s an entire industry that lives off the Kashmir issue.   


But the rest of the film is shabby. An officer from the military intelligence who’s under cover leaves his real identity card lying around on a restaurant table. Ruthless arms dealers who can find and finish anybody at the snap of a finger, don’t have a professional assassin who can take one clear and easy shot. Like the assassin, Neeraj Pandey too misses the mark completely this time.


An old watchman who’s separated from his beloved stray dogs exposes a big building scam without an iota of proof. It’s literally an adarsh story gone to the dogs.


There’s only one news anchor around that everybody gives classified information to. And this anchor promises a breaking story next morning when we all know that television means instant news. It’s not the era where one has to wait for the morning edition of a newspaper to be printed. 


Manoj Bajpayee’s role doesn’t challenge the actor in him. The best thing about Sidharth Malhotra is that he makes a handsome woman. Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah who embellished Neeraj Pandey’s crisply made A Wednesday, are mere add-ons in the ensemble.


In fact, the one mystery that Aiyaary does manage to throw up is, where is the man who made A Wednesday which was so refreshingly riveting?


For a film where the intrigue isn’t engaging, Aiyaary gets a 2* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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