The ‘common man’ khush nahi hua ‘Baby’ let’s meet again this coming ‘Wednesday’ what say?. (Spoiler alert: Babloo will be introduced in due course).
Neeraj Pandey’s latest AIYAARY touted as the espionage explosion aimed to expose the corruption in the Army, sadly ends up exposing the erstwhile prolific Neeraj Pandey’s shortcomings as a filmmaker in this thriller that is nothing but a ticking time bomb that has forgotten its ‘mission’ to explode and make the expected roar. Kya bore. We expected much more…sob sob.
AIYAARY is a yawning result of a hangover of a cocktail made out of Pandey’s previous BABY and his first shot to fame A WEDNESDAY. The movie is non-involving, stretched and finally incomprehensible espionage drama. With the added casualty of assaulting the acting calibers of Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Adil Hussain by chopping it to just a couple of scenes, AIYYARY the touted tribute to the military and their families will hardly light a candle let alone a firecracker.
Neeraj Pandey opens AIYYARY as a spy thriller; A lady army officer is getting interrogated and is abruptly stopped when she is about to introduce Babloo. (Spoiler alert: Babloo will be introduced in due course). Abhay (Manoj Bajpayee) leader of a covert military espionage unit is absconding; Abhay is searching for his bright young and handsome protégé Jai (Sidharth Malhotra). Jai has betrayed the army and has hotfooted to London with his girlfriend Sonia (Rakul Preet Singh).
Jai has access to hard discs containing valuable information. The protégé is a step ahead of his mentor. The covert military espionage unit is under threat to be disowned. Lot of ugly secrets highlighting the ugly sharks of corruption eating up the system is stored in the hard discs. Abhay has to find Jai, before it’s too late.
An ex-Army officer and arms dealer Gurinder (Kumud Mishra) has made an offer from his boss Mukul (Adil Hussain) to the army chief played by Vikram Gokhale. The honest army chief has refused the offer triggering the threat to the covert military espionage unit formed by the chief of the army. Who wins and how ugly, dirty and deadly is the demon of corruption prevailing in the system, who is the pawn and who is the king, who has betrayed and how. And who the hell is Babloo?. You get some answers while some are left alone to wonder.
(Spoiler alert: Babloo will be introduced in due course).
Neeraj Pandey shows his incoherent incompetency here, AIYYARY is a classic case of overwhelming self-indulgence to make something out of things that are considered to be the forte of the helmer – good looking men in uniform, a covert military unit, the plight of a common man, the enemy of the nation. The movie exceptionally throughout its 140 minutes duration is fascinated by its title – AIYAARY (shifting shape, appearances, it’s also used for trickery). In a scene writer director Neeraj Pandey explains the meaning of the word to the audience. It’s nothing but a chest beating exercise in disguise to tell the audience that see I can come with such fascinating words. Before that scene, Neeraj Pandey in his baffled back to forth format – a flashback story, which in turn contains a couple of flashbacks and then a flashback within a flashback shows a scene where a brilliantly disguised Abhay (Manoj Bajpayee) waits for good dozen plus days to nab an informer who has double crossed. He nabs the informer, brings him to his camp, drinks with him and fulfills his last wish of having noodles before that the meaning of AIYAARY is explained to those who are not aware and shoots the informer. Why to turn into a Tarantino or Scorsese Mr. Pandey when you are good at being at your own?
Further, Neeraj in his zest to make AIYAARY an international espionage drama seems to get influenced by the MI series, Bourne films and all. Opps I forgot to remind. (Spoiler alert: Babloo will be introduced in due course).
AIYYARY also suffers from some unintentional humour – when Rakul Preet Singh gets the access to Sidharth Malhotra’s army id, she frowns and screams ‘who are you?’. Girls die to date handsome men in uniform and she is shouting. Before that, in order to impress Sidharth Malhotra as a net expert sort of a hacker, the pretty Rakul Preet buys an outfit from the handsome Sidharth Malhotra’s card and no doubt the guy is impressed but we are not. We wonder why the hell a solid hacker is missing from this covert unit. Maybe to make way for the Telugu popular Rakul.. Ok. (Spoiler alert: Babloo will be introduced in due course).
Wondering where the hell Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher had gone, it’s time for them to come. We wished it could have been in a much better way...as the undeveloped cat and mouse game between Jai and Abhay (Why not Veeru? ‘coin’ toss inspiration was from there?) fails to provide the expected thrills, Neeraj Pandey suddenly realizes that it isn’t working the way it should so to cover the first scam, the writer director introduces another scam and finally the much awaited ‘Babloo’ makes his entry.
Babloo is a poor dog and the hidden voice of the common man Baburao (Naseeruddin Shah) wags the dog (Hoo Hoo)..bow bow the watchman Baburao shouts ‘scam’ which is allegedly said to be inspired from the Adarsh Nagar Housing Society Scandal in Mumbai.. But what is the connection with that arms dealer, the cat and mouse game between a protégée and his mentor over here. Yes ‘corruption’ is the common thread but we are watching a thriller not a political drama!
What an irony, Neeraj Pandey took a long sequence to explain the meaning of AIYAARY and for this housing scam; he leaves things to our imagination. During the process, the dog gets his name Babloo.
(Spoiler alert ends: Babloo is introduced).
It’s the all-round terrific performance of Manoj Bajpayee and the adorable screen presence of Sidharth Malhotra and his endearing act that makes you sit through AIYYARY. Less said about Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Adil Hussain is much better. Naseeruddin Shah gets an extended cameo and he will be good but we didn’t expect this sad revival of A WEDNESDAY in such a way. Rakul Preet Singh is beautiful and added just for glamour. Pooja Chopra on the contrary has something better for her in comparison.
Vikram Gokhale and Kumud Mishra chip in with valuable support, the talented Juhi Babbar is wasted as Manoj Bajpayee’s wife. Nivedita Bhattacharya as the media person is fine.
On technical front, shockingly actions by Abbas Ali Moghu is spineless and remember it’s an espionage thriller. Sidharth Malhotra has not fired a single bullet in this film. Praveen Kathikuloth’s editing leaves a lot to be desired. The movie is too stretched for the genre. Sudheer Palsane’s camera has done the maximum talking over here moving along and giving the feeling that things might move in the direction as expected.
Sudheer Palsane gets full marks in at least creating such an impression for the whole 140 minutes with his camera. Production values are top notch.
Neeraj Pandey’s AIYYARY has a bold subject; it could have been another talking point after A WEDNESDAY for him. Sadly, the touted espionage thriller that dares to take corruption in the army is nowhere near his directorial BABY or NAAM SHABANA for that matter in terms of thrill, chills and action. It’s also remote in its connection with the expectations and feelings of the ‘common man’.
A line in AIYAARY said by Naseeruddin Shah sums this all, he says, “garib admi ko ungli nahi karne ka’ this sounds similar in its theme to attract the eyeballs of the common man in A WEDNESDAY, which goes like, “I am just a stupid common man”. It seems Neeraj has taken the last line literally and ‘unglied’ (meddled) with the expectations of the common man (the audience) in general regarding this espionage thriller.
Movie Cast & Crew
Screenplay: Neeraj Pandey
Actor: Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Adil Hussain, Kumud Mishra, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Vikram Gokhale, Rajesh Tailang
Actress: Rakul Preet Singh, Pooja Chopra
Producer: Dhaval Jayantilal Gada, Shital Bhatia
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Cinematography: Sudhir Palsane
Music Director: Rochak Kohli, Ankit Tiwari
Production house: Motion Picture Capital, Friday Filmworks, Pen India Limited, Plan C Studios
Writer: Neeraj Pandey