Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Rakul Preet Singh, Naseeruddin Shah, Kumud Mishra, Anupam Kher, Adil Hussain
Direction: Neeraj Pandey
Neeraj Pandey’s ‘Aiyaary’ is stupor-inducing. I kept waiting for the thrills, the resolve, the payoff. Alas, there were none!
Pandey has a history of helming robust thrillers – his plots are crisp, taut and promise edge-of-the-seat drama. Special investigations, covert operations, counter-intelligence and honest men-in-uniform are his mainstays. There are always two parties trying to outsmart each other and it’s ever-so-intriguing to witness the cat-and-mouse chases that have formed the crux of most of his work.
‘Aiyaary’ is a stark exception in that it follows a linear trajectory, and utterly fails to surprise and engage.
This is a story about two army officers – Colonel Abhay Singh and Major Jai Bakshi (played by Manoj Bajpayee and Sidharth Malhotra respectively). The younger Bakshi, who once took bullets for his senior officer, Colonel Abhay, has now turned rogue. Disillusioned by corrupt political machinery and the men leading the country, he seems to be convinced that for the people in high positions, it is all about gaining more power or more money. If it is all just about that, Bakshi reasons, why should he too not make the most of it?
And so, with the help of his girlfriend – a hacker/online tech wizard – he decides to take on the mighty and the powerful. It is now that a hot pursuit begins between the former army mates.
Though the concept is an interesting one on paper, it could have done with more pace and intrigue. Instead a lackadaisical unraveling of the many complications of the story – too many vested interests, verbose dialogues and a 160-minute-long runtime – only serves to test one’s patience.
With arms dealers, lobbyists, politicians, officers, journalists, even assassins and the nexus connecting them jostling for screen space, I was almost confused into a state of semi-somnolence by the intermission.
No doubt, Sidharth Malhotra looks dapper, but his character is no Jason Bourne – ergo, the visual appeal becomes a bit drab after a point. Manoj Bajpayee looks sharp and is a pro at such roles. Unfortunately, Bajpayee – along with an ensemble cast comprising Kumud Mishra, Anupam Kher, Adil Hussain – is let down by a convoluted plot and abstruse writing.
The scenes shot in Cairo and London pique some interest, but they fail to build up to a crescendo, such as the one you’d expect from a thriller. Even the romantic track between Sidharth and Rakul Preet is insipid, though the pair certainly infuses some life into the catchy ‘Lae Dooba’.
This has got to be the weakest of Neeraj Pandey’s works. Watch it if you must, but ‘Aiyaary’ just doesn’t have the quintessential panache that Pandey has exhibited in his previous thrillers – especially in ‘A Wednesday’, ‘Special 26’ and ‘Baby’.