‘Aiyaary’ review: A flashback too many

A scene from the movie ‘Aiyaary.’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

These days disclaimers in films seem to tell their own story, preparing you for what is likely to unfold on screen. Aiyaary has several of them including a ridiculous one on not supporting riding motorbikes without helmets. But the most crucial one, right at the start, has the filmmaker going on the back foot about armymen and politicians. The film itself is about Neeraj Pandey’s favourite theme—disenchantment with the system and its subversion and unofficial missions which the government would disown the minute they are outed.

  • Director: Neeraj Pandey
  • Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Naseeruddin Shah, Kumud Mishra, Adil Hussain, Rakul Preet Kaur, Anupam Kher
  • Run time: 160.10 minutes
  • Storyline: Mentor Colonel Abhay Singh and his protégé Major Jai Bakshi find themselves on either side of the ideological divide when it comes to looking ahead at the future of the nation

The corruption portrayed here is in the army, in the arms deals with politicians giving the outside support. The question then, is why get so defensive about things in the film’s opening disclaimer? There are good and bad people everywhere, including the armed forces. As for politicians, well what is there to defend?


The film itself is a straightforward enough tale: of Colonel Abhay Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) and his protégé Major Jai Bakshi from the covert Data and System Diagnostic (DSD) team. Despite mutual respect and affection, they end up finding themselves on either side of the divide. Dejected by the corruption in the system that he spots while tapping phones Jai decides to turn rogue and disappear, even as the colonel keeps nursing hope for the future of the nation. The normalisation of surveillance state aside (which one would have an axe to grind with) it’s the needlessly protracted and complicated telling of what is a not-so-deep tale that grates on one’s nerves. Pandey keeps taking one back and forth in time, digging up uninteresting stories from his characters’ past that have no bearing on the present. Instead of keeping the viewers on the edge of the seat the narrative device ends up being confusing and convoluted. And to top it all is the climax which seems like an afterthought, a desperate closure for a film hurtling nowhere.


The writing has no sense of proportion or balance. A character like Baburao (Naseeruddin Shah) is introduced early left hanging till the very end. If that was to build suspense it’s all ho-hum. Most of the other characters, including the DSD team, don’t rise above being half baked sketches.


In the name of swag the actors are made to wear shades, look deliberately deadpan and perennially walk in slo-mo, so much that they leave one somnolent with their unhurried ways. You can see Bajpayee trying hard to breathe life in his persona but Malhotra, who is lovely to gaze at, doesn’t have an ounce of the angst that his character should have ideally had. Bajpayee, the song ‘Lae Dooba’ and some stray canines at the fag end are the film’s only saving graces.


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Printable version | May 6, 2021 4:42:26 AM |

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