'Shivaay': stylish with an archaic heart

The film turns out almost three hours long with just a wisp of a story.

October 28, 2016 04:19 pm | Updated December 02, 2016 12:17 pm IST

There is a consistency of craft in Shivaay that is rarely seen in Hindi cinema. Like its relentless commitment towards slow motion. From the first shot to the last, everything moves s…l…o…w — the bullet that leaves the pistol to the teardrop that falls from the eye. No wonder the film turns out almost three hours long despite just a wisp of a story to tell.

Then there’s Ajay Devgn in the titular role, a mountaineer who is perennially jumping off every cliff in any range in any part of the world. Otherwise he can be found smoking a chillum, extremely self-consciously at that, looking meaningfully at the audience as though telling them: stop me if you can. Well, he gets away with weed with the mythological sanction of Shiva behind him and the chants of ‘ Bolo har har har ’ egging him on. How then can the Censor Board point a disapproving finger?

There’s more — the wintry grey-blue palette, the extreme close-ups especially of the eyes (remember Shiva’s third eye) and the breathtakingly beautiful landscape — the lofty Himalayas and the pretty cobbled streets of Sofia in Bulgaria. And, for all the fans of action, there are long chases around the city landmarks, bloody fights, several dead bodies of Russians and Bulgarians and enough smashed cars to give Rohit Shetty a major inferiority complex, in not one but all his seven lives.

Welcome to the Ajay Devgn brand of stylish cinema. The kind that looks modish but sports a terribly archaic, outdated heart. Mountaineer Shivaay falls in love with Bulgarian Barbie doll-like beauty Olga (Erika Kaar) while trying to save her in a life-threatening avalanche. For a bit it made me get nostalgic about the shared socialist past of the two countries and how both have moved on but that would be a needless digression.

Genre: Action Director: Ajay Devgn Cast: Ajay Devgn, Erika Kaar, Abigail Eames, Sayesha Saigal, Vir Das, Girish Karnad, Saurabh Shukla Bottomline: The Ajay Devgn brand of stylish cinema sports an archaic heart at its core.

To come back to their romance, she gets turned on by his mythological tattoos, one right there tantalisingly on the chest, he kisses her ever so chastely that she decides to take charge and guess what happens next? A baby called Gaura (Abigail Eames) is born. Olga doesn’t want to have the child, she has too many other responsibilities. Shivaay wants one because he has no one to call his own. So the lady leaves for her home and the single father brings up the daughter.

Much later in the film Olga is made to feel the “guilt” as Shivaay delivers her a moral science lecture on motherhood. After all, no woman can ever be “complete” without experiencing the divine maternal joy, isn’t it (sarcasm very much intended)!

That’s not all. There’s more — a Russian child trafficking racket in Bulgaria in which Shivaay and Gaura get trapped. Then there are two other needless subplots involving father-daughter duos (this could well turn out to be the Beti Bachao year for Bollywood) and an ethical hacker (Vir Das) for comic relief. All eventually does end well as Shivaay kills the main baddie in the Bulgarian equivalent of Kailash Parbat with an icicle trishul to the background score of ‘ Ja ja Kailash, ja kar vinaash.

For some strange reason, while all Bulgarians, including the fickle mom and the several ugly villains are bad, all the individuals of Indian/subcontinental descent are nice human beings. Clearly, the Bulgarians did not know what they were in for or they just decided to bear with it for the sake of economics. For if this can lead to an increase in film shoots and in the inflow of Indian tourists to their country, well then why not?

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