'Aiyaary': That seamless political thriller Bollywood needed (Review
By Subhash K. Jha ; Rating: ****)
At first, "Aiyaary" seems less seamless than it actually is. Where is all this leading to? You wonder at the outset, as writer-director Neeraj Pandey sets up what eventually turns out to be pieces of a jigsaw that fits perfectly into the mindboggling zigzag of India's political conditioning in contemporary times.
It is very hard to point out plot points in "Aiyaary" that stand out to build the compelling construct on corruption in military forces. It seems miraculous that Siddharth Malhotra, playing an army renegade, is allowed to mouth dialogues that openly castigate the corrupt political system. Illegal arms-deal scams are not only whispered into the commodious plot. The narrative screams in wounded agony at the dizzying heights of corruption in the highest places.
This is no mean achievement.
Early in the narrative, there is a sharp exchange of malevolent words between an army general and a former armyman who wants to negotiate a defence-purchase scam on behalf of unnamed arms dealers. Here we see two seasoned actors, Vikram Gokhale and Kumud Mishra (the latter a welcome staple in Neeraj Pandey's cinema) spar across the table with a fanged finesse that would give Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn in "Death Becomes Her" some 'feud' for thought.
The performances are not consistently polished. Some of the actors are impossible high-pitched clamouring to make themselves heard over the bustling officious background music by Sanjoy Choudhary that could have been less hammering in its impact.
Blessedly Manoj Bajpai and Malhotra play against each other with vitality and force, giving both heft and history to their parts of a veteran who won't desert the cause and the junior who won't stay within the corrupt system. The confrontation sequences between them are a treat to behold, largely because they play not for effect but for reasons that come from within their conscience.
There are two vivid flashbacks in Kashmir where we see the two heroes' heroism from each other's point of view. Taking the bullets from the enemies with a refreshing lack of flourish associated with cinematic soldierliness, the two protagonists represent patriotic valour at its most played-down scale.
Malhotra is specially surprising, fine-tuning his inner pain, channelizing the Ranbir rather than Ranveer within himself, to deliver a mellow blow to a system of governance that fosters corruption. Adil Hussain as an arms dealer has one very powerful sequence with Bajpai where the two actors address a devastating debauchery in the defence system with lethal elan.
True to the action genre, the female characters are sketchily written. Capable actresses like Juhi Babbar and Nivedita Bhattacharya scarcely get to make even a fleeting impression. As for Rakul Preet Singh as Malhotra's love interest, she looks clueless about her function in the plot.
But truly, my favourite performance in this film of indubitable force and inner strength, is by Naseeruddin Shah. His cameo as a common man who, according to the smart script, brings out the Adarsh Housing Society scam, is peerless. If you remember, Naseer that actor par excellence had played the Common Man screaming in protest against corruption in politics in Neeraj Pandey's debut film "A Wednesday". That Naseer again plays a Common Man capable of shaking the inert decadent political system in Pandey's best work since "A Wednesday", is no coincidence.
Good things were waiting to happen to the political thriller in Hindi cinema. It takes a vast amount of integrity and guts to bring to the screen a drama that dismantles the image of 'Saare jahan se achcha..' to focus on the corruption within. Designed to poke needles into our collective national conscience, "Aiyaary" is a film that must be seen by every Indian.
Neeraj Pandey is no Costa-Gavras. But for our hard-earned bucks, this filmmaker drives in a forceful message on subterfuge in the the defence hierarchy better than any Indian filmmaker. One day, I hope to see him do a film on Bofors and then the Rafale deal to complete his defence trilogy.
'Aiyaari': A skilfully mounted cry of rage (Review By Troy Ribeiro ; Rating: ***1/2)
Director Neeraj Pandey's "Aiyaari", which means ‘shape shifting', is a cry of
rage against the corrupt system that is prevailing in the government and armed
forces. It is a simply told tale and is based on facts.
An astutely mounted and engaging suspense thriller, the film is told in Neeraj Pandey's inimitable style of a cat and mouse chase between an army officer and his subordinate. The plot even ends in a chase: Not through the streets but through a labyrinth of facts, alibis and official corruption. And, despite the disclaimer offered at the beginning of the film, the truth can't be camouflaged.
The narrative, in a non-linear manner, begins with informing us about two officers; Colonel Abhay Singh and Major Jai Bakshi, absconding from their line of duty in the Special Coveted Services, read 'Intelligence Department'.
Then in a flashback, four days earlier, we are given to understand that Major Jai Bakshi, Colonel Abhay's blue-eyed boy is on the run after siphoning off sensitive and classified data from his office. He is termed a traitor.
Hurt and feeling betrayed, Colonel Abhay Singh is after him to bring him to book. And through the chase we realise that Jai is leading us from an initial personal involvement to the indictment of the rot, trying to expose the military men and their nexus with the arms dealers, and the construction lobby, thereby refusing to co-exist within the corrupt system.
The events, which are skilfully intertwined, will awaken a patriotic nerve in you and will make you angry. It will tear your guts out, especially when you are constantly reminded, "Viraasat mein nayi peedi ke liye kya chod kar ja rahe hain?", which literally means what are you leaving behind as your legacy for the next generation.
In this film, though one-dimensionally portrayed, the writing outshines the performances. Manoj Bajpayee, an exceptional actor, except for a few scenes including the one when he goes undercover as a vagabond, lacks lustre. As the fearless Colonel Abhay Singh who shoots people at point blank range, he is by and large mediocre and unimpressive.
Similarly, Sidharth Malhotra is perfunctory as Major Jai Bakshi. Though he propels the tale, he lacks the zing.
Kumud Mishra as the retired Lieutenant General Gurinder Singh has his moments of on-screen glory and he is effective. So is Adil Hussain as the arms dealer Mukesh Kapoor. Naseeruddin Shah is typically himself as Baburao Shastri, but his story and presence are an intriguing factor that makes you hold on for his appearance.
Rakul Preet Singh as Jai's love interest Sonia and Pooja Chopra as Captain Maya and the character who plays Abhay's wife are there to balance the otherwise totally male-oriented cast.
Shot in locales that include New Delhi, Kashmir, London, Cairo and Mumbai, the film has good production values and is technically well-crafted. The visuals and background score are of fine calibre and mesh well in the final flow.
With a run-time of two hours and forty minutes the film is a bit lengthy but nevertheless, that does not affect the overall viewing experience.
Actress Rakul Preet, who took some of her fans on a chopper ride in Mumbai, says she has many "thrilling ideas" in mind for her admirers.As a part of the contest conducted on her personal app, three winners travelled from Hyderabad to Mumbai to go on a 15 minute joy-ride with her.Read MoreManoj delivers over 400 lines in four night shifts
Actor Manoj Bajpayee, who is busy shooting for director Milap Zaveri's yet-untitled-film, says he had to deliver over 400 lines in four night shifts."Pack up at 3:30 am for a person who wakes up at 5 am. Unfair my dear Milap Zaveri, my director and writer who made me deliver more than 400 lines in four night shifts. Full on dialoguebazi. Loved it and now silence for few days," Manoj tweeted early on Monday.Read More
Aiyaary is an upcoming film which is a drama based on true events directed
by Neeraj Pandey starring Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee which is slated
to release on 26th Jan, 2018.
The story is about the relationship between a mentor and a protégé which is based on true incidents.