Sachin Kundalkar's 'Aiyyaa' is a curious film to review, neither can you completely diss it as a bad one nor can you overlook its obvious flaws. There are moments in the film that will make you smile much after you have left the theatre and then there are others that just had no place in the final cut.
Baradwaj Rangan has titled his review, "Aiyyaa"… Curiouser and curiouser:
Throughout Aiyyaa, we are left turning between a lovably loud Hindi film and a more dreamlike French romance that might have featured Audrey Tautou — and the effect is whiplash. A musical sequence like Dreamum wakeupum — an expertly staged parody of the Padmalaya ethos — belongs in the first kind of a film, but clashes horribly with the sensibilities of the other film. And a song between two supporting characters — Maina (Anita Date, who's made to look like a cross between Olive Oyl and a Folies Bergère entertainer) and Meenakshi's brother Nana (Amey Wagh) — is staged like absurd theatre. It has no business in a Bollywood movie where Meenakshi's fiancé, Madhav (Subodh Bhave), breaks into a gently ruminative tune from Saath Saath. And what, really, are we supposed to make of Meenakshi's confession that she identifies with the heroine of Alice in Wonderland, except that we're in a film that's getting curiouser and curiouser?
'Aiyyaa' starts off with a promise because there's something so new about this story. Shubhra Gupta says:
More than anything else, 'Aiyyaa' is a film that could have been a truly subversive, exhilarating ride with a sexually aware, sensually charged woman at its centre. A woman who is willing to follow her nose, and her heart, to where it takes her: in this instance, past an overflowing 'kachre ka dabba' to a sweet-smelling hottie. But Sachin Kundalkar's whose Marathi 'Gandha' did this infinitely better, doesn't manage the reprise, and what we get is a flat, heavy-footed clomp through screechy lines and overstated, dragged-out situations.
Rani is the star in this one and her quirky and obsessive character is the most entertaining part of the film. Anupama Chopra says in her review:
She imagines she's Mohini from Tezaab and Rashmi from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Her brother is obsessed with dogs. One of her colleagues at work is a sort of bargain-basement Lady Gaga who drinks vodka out of a bottle shaped like a red monkey. Some of this is fun. Rani is delightful as a woman in heat.
She expertly manages to be both a simpleton and a seductress. She looks stunning and dances like a dervish. But the film can't match her performance. Kundalkar's story soon runs out of charm and wit. His lovely idea and original voice is stretched to the point where even Rani's mannerisms start to feel repetitive.
If you are still wondering whether you should watch this one, Rajeev Masand says that the film is an original experiment:
In the end, despite the impressive camerawork and Amit Trivedi's winning tunes, Aiyyaa is at best an original and promising experiment let down by its many indulgences. I'm going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Sachin Kundalkar's Aiyyaa; an unusual film that could've been so much more.
You can read my review here.
You can also connect with me on Twitter.