Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Rakul Preet Singh, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher
Despite not having a clue what Aiyaary meant, I was gung-ho about seeing this one simply because the packing was damn attractive. I don’t mean Sidharth Malhotra... I mean him in a Neeraj Pandey Film which stars Manoj Bajpayee. Wow! It was supposed to be fabulous. Aiyaary turned out to be good but not great. Here’s how the story flows.
We already know Jai Bakshi (Sidharth Malhotra) is on the run. He has managed to uncover something that completely shakes his belief in the system he has been propagating since he took the oath to protect the country. However, some times you do a better job outside the system, than within it. He moves out and starts uncovering the grim from the outside, to get right to the core. Unfortunately, he is pitched against the one man who showed him the hows – his mentor, Abhay (Manoj Bajpayee). The mind games that start with the chase are mindboggling to say the least. In Neeraj Pandey’s signature style, it ensures that the audience is stumped by the way his mind works. Not only has he brought out a subject that has only been whispered about in close circles, he has even done a fantastic job in curating a story with utmost details and excellent characterization! So why is it that I am not raving and ranting about it?
It has been long established that Neeraj Pandey can make engaging cinema, which has you at the edge of your seats without any crutches of romance/song and dance etc. He does it only on the merit of his excellent story telling. For Aiyaary we already expected that, and hoped for more from him. So when he just about delivers a good thriller, the disappointment is fierce. More so, because he has a cast that’s enthusiastic about giving him more than they are capable of.
To begin with, Sidharth Malhotra was the only one amongst the actors for whom this is a challenging role, not because he has the best role in the film (Manoj Bajpayee supersedes him as expected) but because he has to act well in certain parts rather than just look his handsome-self. He succeeds in some parts and does not so well in others. For instance, the whole mind-game, which has been drawing Malhotra to films like THE GENTLEMAN and ITTEFAQ, need a little more understated dispositions at times, which Sidharth lacks at times. He doesn’t go over the top, but he doesn’t do casual well either. His confusion shows especially in the face of actors such as Manoj Bajpayee, who have excelled in the craft long before Malhotra debuted.
That said, Manoj Bajpayee has some rather interesting moments in the film, but the itch is missing. Especially, the scenes between the mentor and the protégé could have been far more witty and suave, but the director didn’t waste any time on it. What he did instead was go into back stories and such, which took away from the crisp narrative and added thirty extra minutes to the film, making it one of the biggest drawbacks of Aiyaary. Amongst the girls Rakul is sweet as expected. However, if Pooja Chopra thought this was going to be her BABY-Taapsee Pannu moment, she is in for some bitter disappointment.
For the audience, it is more disappointing to have actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Adil Hussain wasted. With no room for songs, the music in the film is nothing to speak of. The cinematography and screenplay are exactly like each of Pandey’s previous films making Aiyaary more of a been-there-seen-that than a who-dunnit!