Aiyaary: This Neeraj Pandey film lacks pace and solid screenplay
Movie Review by Anand Jha (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Known for great thrillers like A Wednesday and Special 26, when director Neeraj Pandey comes up with his new film; it obviously raises a lot of expectations. Aiyaary features Manoj Bajpayee and Siddharth Malhotra in lead roles along with a promising ensemble cast. Set in the backdrop of real scams connected with the Indian Army, the film lacks the pace of a taut thriller. To top that the half-baked story, makes this film a dull 160-minute watch.
Neeraj Pandey has displayed amply that he is interested in secret operations carried out by the governments. Aiyaary’s premise is familiar but lacks finesse and raw power, which was seen in A Wednesday. The film has two story narrations. One from Major Jai Bakshi’s (Siddharth Malhotra) perspective and the other from Colonel Abhay Singh’s (Manoj Bajpayee). The movie could’ve been so much more if not for the feeble attempt towards weaving weak subplots together. It also required a kind of tuning between Manoj Bajpayee and Siddharth Malhotra, just like Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah in A Wednesday. But the younger actors fail to display much of a connect. To top that, the lead pair played by Siddharth Malhotra and Rakul Preet Singh get lot of screen time as a lead pair but there is absolutely no sizzle or chemistry.
Aiyaary has been shot at different locations – Delhi, Cairo, Kashmir and London. But sadly, the cities hardly have much role to play in the plotline and as a result it makes no sense to travel across boundaries. Not just that there are many scenes that defy all logic. The movie has a scene where Siddharth Malhotra uses his Indian Army identity card at a restaurant during an ‘under-cover’ operation. Figure that one out! Aiyaary has heap loads of such foibles, making it seem like a run-of-the-mill commercial film.
As Colonel Abhay Singh, Manoj Bajpayee delivers a stellar performance, as one expects from the veteran actor. Whenever he is in frame, he manages to divert attention towards him. He is the star of the film but is alone not enough to save it. Siddharth Malhotra looks dapper throughout as an army officer but as always sports a deadpan expression that fails to impress. Rakul Preet doesn’t get a chance to display her acting chops. Even with a superb ensemble cast including the likes of Adil Hussain, Vikram Gokhale and Naseeruddin Shah, Aiyaary isn’t much of a watch. Anupam Kher and Pooja Chopra perform memorable cameos and the latter probably has more screen presence than Rakul Preet.
The film editing is done by Praveen Kathikuloth who worked with Pandey on Naam Shabana, a film that received critical acclaim and was appreciated for its tight editing. But the editing in this film is a sloppy affair and the film does needed some fine cuts to give it a certain pace, essential for thrillers. However, the most unimpressive bit about the film is its direction. At the helm of affairs, Pandey did have the potential to turn this film into an edge-of-the-seat thriller. But he barely manages to make the audience sit through the entire film. With a great cast and story, he really did stand a chance. One can only say, something went wrong!