Written by Alaka Sahani | New Delhi | Published: February 16, 2018 10:18 am Aiyaary movie review: Had the film been closely edited to make it pacy, it would have sent out the message it intends to.

Aiyaary movie cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Vikram Gokhale, Kumud Mishra, Rakul Preet Singh, Pooja Chopra
Aiyaary movie director: Neeraj Pandey
Aiyaary movie rating: 2.5 stars

It is all too familiar: men in uniform, who are deeply righteous and patriotic, going after robbers, arms dealers and terrorists. In fact, as a writer and director Neeraj Pandey has created a brand of thriller with them that he can call his own. He often creates a heightened sense of drama aided by music, that’s almost a constant; stylised images with generous use of slo-mo; and, of course, the necessary twists and turns to make the cat-and-mouse game engrossing.

This time, Pandey spins the story around two men — mentor Colonel Abhay Singh (Manoj) and acolyte Major Jai Bakshi (Sidharth) — who are part of a special unit of Indian Army’s military intelligence. The latter goes rogue when he discovers deep-rooted corruption and flaws in the system. This sets his mentor on his chase as the action shifts from Delhi to Central London. It would have been interesting to watch two men, who have deep regard and love for each other, tackle their conflicts even as their ideologies clash. This lays bare the generation gap, the questions and cynicism that the younger ones have. Yet, the film does not go deeper into these issues.

Aiyaary, for which Pandey gets the story, script and direction credit, isn’t taut enough to qualify for an edge-of-the-seat thriller. The plot is emaciated. The narration, which revolves around deception and sense of duty, is long-winding. Even though the movie puts together an impressive ensemble cast comprising some of our best actors, it takes a lot of time to establish their characters.

A veteran in Pandey’s movies, Manoj Bajpayee carries the film on his shoulders. But, one expects more from this collaboration, especially since Manoj is a versatile actor. As a former army man turned arms dealer, Adil Hussain brings his usual finesse to the screen. What is particularly disappointing are the sketchy women characters. Even though Pandey has written and produced Naam Shabana, which revolves around a woman spy, he fails to create any remarkable woman characters. Though Rakul Preet Singh is introduced as an IT wizard, she is reduced to being Sidharth Malhotra’s love interest.

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Neeraj Pandey has perfected the art of weaving opinion on the political scenario, the hankering for money and power, the prevalent corruption in the system and the state of democracy in his stories. At one point in the movie, Singh explains to Bakshi that the Kashmir issue is never going to be resolved as it is like an “industry” since too many people stand to gain from the conflict. Pandey has, in the past, deftly woven real-life scams and incidents into the narrative. In Aiyaary, he fictionalises the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai. The result, this time, is not very impressive.

Had the film been closely edited to make it pacy, it would have sent out the message it intends to. As of now, it remains as lost as the purpose behind some of the film’s long drawn chase sequences.

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