Movie review: Aiyyaa-m in pain

I am a huge Rani Mukerji fan. And I had to repeat that line to myself a hundred times after watching Aiyyaa. Rani is definitely one of the most talented female actors in Bollywood in this generation, which is why I wondered what came over her that she chose to do this film!

Directed by Marathi film-maker Sachin Kundalkar, who was trying his hand at Bollywood for the first time, Aiyyaa is a painful experience to say the least. Meenakshi Deshpande (Rani) is shown to be the only normal person in the ridiculous world where the film is set. She’s a dreamer who wants to make some money so that she can move out of her parents’ madhouse.

She gets a job as a librarian at an art college, where she meets Tamil artist Surya (played by Malayalam actor Prithviraj), and immediately falls in love — with his scent. I kid you not. That’s when I realised that, as some kind of a mental defence system against the atrocity I was putting myself through, I may have been forcing myself to believe that Meenakshi was a normal character.

Kundalkar then tries an assortment of remedies to salvage the film, all of which fall flat on their face. He creates a love triangle as Meenakshi’s mother hooks her up with “ideal husband material” Madhav, which sort of helps the film’s cause for a few minutes. Music by Amit Trivedi (known for his fantastic work in Aisha and Ishaqzaade) also offers brief moments of entertainment.

However, the only real saving grace of the film is not surprisingly Rani Mukerji herself. Subodh Bhave as Madhav is the only character that is enjoyable. Prithviraj barely has any dialogues until the last 30 minutes of the film and every other character is simply trying too hard to bring some humour into an essentially plot-less film. Particularly insufferable is Meenakshi’s best friend Maina, whose character appears to be inspired by Rooh Afza from Pakistani drama serial “Quddusi Sahib Ki Bewa”. Maina is Meenakshi’s raunchy fellow librarian, who is perpetually drunk on vodka. That would be entertaining if it wasn’t so pathetic.

Sadly, there is nothing good that can be said about this film. The script is weak, the acting is mostly bad and while Bollywood audiences appear to be accepting some South Indian film-making influence, Aiyyaa is just too influenced for their taste.

So save yourself the hours of torture and give me the ticket money instead. Believe me, I’m seriously looking for a reimbursement for my cinema ticket.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 28th, 2012.

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