Writer-director Neeraj Pandey, hung up as always on suave secret agents staking their all in the service of the nation, takes a bit of a detour in Aiyaary. He seeks to expose the global arms lobby and its corrupt collaborators in India. Not a bad idea on paper. On the screen, however, all that it yields is an insipid, inchoate thriller, more an inert guessing game than an edge-of-the-seat movie experience.
The 160-minute marathon makes no leeway for the foxed audience: the characters are sketchily fleshed out, the lines they speak border on the stilted, and the situations that they find themselves in and create for others are do not enhance clarity. Let us face it: who would take a soldier who doubles up as a spy seriously when he steals hard disks from his unit’s server room without deactivating the closed-circuit cameras or when he walks away from a restaurant table carelessly leaving his army identity card for the girl he loves to figure out who he really is? Aiyaary is a massive let-down on many other crucial counts.
The cast, led by the ever-dependable Manoj Bajpayee and bolstered by fine actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Adil Hussain, Kumud Mishra and Rajesh Tailang, provides occasional flashes of competence. The wishy-washy screenplay simply does not give them enough to work with. A below-par Sidharth Malhotra, playing a young, idealistic army officer who goes rogue in order to take on the establishment, does not help matters. His oh-so-cool demeanour is totally out of place in a world where danger is a constant. Having defied his bosses and challenged the system single-handedly, he should logically have been an all worked-up and shifty figure lurking in the shadows. He isn’t. Malhotra comes across as a guy out on a walk in the park.
Aiyaary, comatose and convoluted, is like a patient who’s been wheeled in on a stretcher and declared dead on arrival. It never manages to get up on its feet and break into a saunter, let alone a sprint. The background music goes all guns blazing in the hope that the film’s snail-like pace will not lull the audience to sleep, but the persistent clanging that accompanies the lack of action is inevitably ineffectual. It doesn’t spur the narrative out of its stupor and into a state of any sort of urgency.
Aiyaary Movie Review: Below-Par Sidharth Malhotra Stars In Comatose Movie,