During a regular drinking session, a colonel tells his protege that he always tosses a coin when stuck in dilemma because the heart already selects the right choice when the coin is in mid-air. Nope, we ain't kidding. Imagine, just flicking a coin and poof...your confusion disappears just like that! Even if it meant you are stuck in a life-and-death situation! Too hard to believe naa? But in Neeraj Pandey's parallel universe in Aiyaary, everything's a smooth cakewalk.
His latest outing set against the backdrop of Armed forces, revolves around Major Jai Bakshi (Sidharth Malhotra) who goes rogue after stumbling upon the Indian military's murky secrets. He isn't alone in this mission and has his hacker girlfriend Sonia (Rakul Preet Singh) by his side who also doubles up as 'I-have-made-some-coffee-for-you' pal. Meanwhile, Jai's mentor Col. Abhay Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) becomes furious after learning about his treachery and sets out to hunt him down and teach him a lesson or two. Amidst this cat-and-mouse game, there are bigger fishes in the sea who have more at stake and pose a greater risk of getting exposed.
Neeraj Pandey is known to be a master when it comes to espionage thrillers. Be it 'A Wednesday', 'Baby', 'Special 26', the filmmaker has never shied away from portraying the grim reality on-screen in the most realistic way. His take on corruption and malpractices existing in the country has always been bold and stark. Unfortunately in Aiyaary, the man has refrained from digging deep into the dirt and played it as safely as possible.
While in his media interviews, Neeraj maintained that 'the DNA of Aiyaary is the point of view of the youth and not corruption or scam,' the commentary that he makes on today's youth who are considered irresponsible and constantly underestimated, lack a strong voice. National security, espionage, corruption, terrorism, scams and the clash of ideologies between two generations- Pandey tries to pack in too many ingredients but is terribly let down by his own feebly writing.
The non-linear narrative especially for a major portion in the first half leaves you with jumbled minds as you struggle to keep pace with events happening at a swift speed. Neeraj takes his own sweet time to explain character quirks and idiosyncrasies which induces a few 'yawns'. There are several questions left unaswered even post the rolling of end-credits.
When it comes to performances, Sidharth Malhotra falters as Major Jai Bakshi. While it's highly applaudable of the actor to step into a different zone, he needs to buck up when it comes to emoting on celluloid. Lesser said about his intense scenes here the better. Also one question for Mr Malhotra, what's with that smirking throughout the film? Thankfully, his swooning looks might save the day for the ladies at least!
Manoj Bajpayee relishes his role with sincerity and gives you reasons to cheer. The actor remains true to the film's title and keeps you hooked with his 'shape-shifting'. Right from the body language to the mannerisms of a staunchly scrupulous army officer, he gets it spot on.
Rakul Preet Singh looks charismatic. Sadly, she barely gets a chance to showcase her acting talent. But wasn't her character supposed to be that of a brilliant hacker? Instead, we see her basking in puppy love and blindly follow her beau's intructions for reasons which are never revealed!
Naseeruddin Shah's cameo suffers from a serious 'A Wednesday' hangover. Nevertheless, it's still a treat to watch the veteran actor utter the veiled threat- 'Gareeb aadmi ko na ungli nahi karne ka sahab' and echo every common man's sentiments.
Pooja Chopra randomly pops up in a scene or a two. Kumud Mishra's character begins well but later simply trails off. Talented performers like Adil Hussain and Anupam Kher suffer from weak character sketches.
Sudheer Palsaane's lens beautifully captures the intrinsic details and perfectly builds up moments. Despite Praveen Kathikuloth's editing scissors, Aiyaary makes for a tedious watch at a run-time of 160 minutes.
The song 'Lae Dooba' in Aiyaary merely acts as a filler and adds to the 'forced' romantic track brewing between Sidharth Malhotra and Rakul Preet. The film has some impressive background score.
There's a scene in the film where Manoj Bajpayee's Abhay Singh tells a character, "Matlab bhi batayega ya google karoon..." That perfectly sums up your feelings after watching Aiyaary.
Neeraj Pandey serves you a half-baked plot in Aiyaary which just beats around the bush and leaves you apathetic by the end. Those carrying remnants of Neeraj's previous films with them to the cinema hall will be highly disappointed!