Aiyaary Review: A rare Neeraj Pandey bore-fest
Pandey returns with another drama dealing with the army and corruption, but is no drama to speak of and very little action too
Neeraj Pandey is a patriot. His filmography - not just his director credits - is there to see and much can be gleaned from it. He is fascinated by the idea of nation, army, intelligence, terrorists and security. From a taut A Wednesday to this week's all-over-the-place Aiyaary. His producer credits include Toilet: EkPrem Katha (an advertisement for one of the current government's schemes), Naam Shabana (a spin-off from his own espionage drama Baby), and Rustom (the redecoration of a dishonoured serviceman and his misunderstood nationalism). It won't be a stretch to include MS Dhoni: An Untold Story either. In a country where sports and nationalism collude to dig up cricket pitches, a decorated World Cup winning captain is the very definition of patriot. Pandey returns with another drama dealing with the army, corruption (it's quite easily the buzzword, isn't it?) and a lip service to the Adarsh Society Scam (it is Aashraya here). Only the problems with Aiyaary are inherent. There is no drama to speak of and there is very little of the action that a film like Baby excelled in.
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Rakul Preet Singh
Aiyaary has meet-cutes, flashbacks to supposedly delineate characters and an alarming penchant for digression. Something simple and straightforward is crushed and twisted to appear complicated. Baby had none of this. It had a simple plot--Find Man, Kill Man--and it went about doing it in a surgical manner. Almost every Pandey film has had a kinetic energy that never decelerates, but Aiyaary is a different breed. It doesn't know what it wants to be. Should it be an action film? Every character gets a slow-motion-walk-towards-or-away-from-camera introduction scene. Jai Bakshi (Sidharth Malhotra) gets one in front of the India Gate. Abhay Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) gets one in Egypt. Even Adil Hussain who has a pitiably tiny part gets one in darkness where he shows off his state-of-the-art weapons. He is the poor man's Tony Stark playing with 3D models of his weapons that he must control himself because he doesn't have Jarvis at his disposal. His company is called Armory Inc. His car's number plate reads ARM. That's the amount of thought that has gone into Aiyaary.
Pandey wants his Abhay Singh to be like the Abhay Singh of Drohkaal. A man with undying love for his country, his work, with a loving family, but also a man who is unable to leave his work at the footsteps of his house. Bajpayee tries to infuse some style and panache into this Abhay Singh, and fairly succeeds with his play of words, sarcasm and never lets his patriotism push his acting registers to unbearable highs. The film though pushes everyone's frustration buttons by resorting to unnecessary backstories, a tiring story about dogs and a race-course-obsessed security guard, that makes Aiyaary 160 minutes when a crisper form of boredom could have been conjured in 120 minutes or less. Rakul Preet Singh - playing the role of the most unconvincing tech security geek - does what she usually does in films, which is next to nothing. It's not very different with Sidharth Malhotra either, only he has a part to play but treats it like a walkabout. But who can blame the actors when everyone including the director has treated it as one?