The wait is finally over and one of the most awaited movie of this year has finally hit the screens. Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay grabbed the headlines for a couple of reasons. Firstly since the actor was directing his dream project himself and secondly for it’s breathtaking visuals and high octane action sequences. We knew action was always his forte but with Shivaay he has taken this notch a bit higher. While a lot has been predicted about the movie’s plot, it’s core stays the bond between father- daughter relationship. So how’s the movie? Will it prove a tough competitor for Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil? Read on to find out…
What’s it about
Ajay Devgn’s directorial return Shivaay is the story of a man trying to right many wrongs. Set against the backdrop of the icy mountains, Shivaay (Ajay) is living what seems like an ordinary life – helping the army in lost and found missions, trekking with tourists and flirting with foreign belles, one in particular – Olga (Erika Kaar). Shivaay and Olga’s love story happens so quickly that before you start digging into your popcorn they have a child – a daughter named Gaura (Abigail) who might be a mute but her expressions and over enthusiastic antics compensate for her lack of speech. Shivaay’s world turns upside down when Gaura discovers a letter left by Olga describing how she abandoned her daughter after birth. Their journey to find Olga takes the father- daughter duo to the scenic locales of Bulgaria where most of the film takes place. Ajay throws in a child trafficking subplot that serves as a catalyst to play out one of the longest drawn climaxes of 2016. There is no villain, rather there are masked men who Shivaay has to fight to reach to the one who is responsible for his daughters kidnapping. Shot on a lavish scale with high octane stunt scenes Shivaay works because of its emotional connect with the audience. .
Ajay Devgn fans won’t be disappointed. You have a bare chested Ajay lying bareback on the snow capped mountains opens the film, making it clear that there will be a lot of Ajay Devgn in every frame. And it isn’t really a bad thing. For someone whose forte is action, Devgn has come a long way from making an entry standing with his two feet on moving bikes to thrusting deadly icicles in his villains torso. Aseem Bajaj who helms the cinematography departments makes sure the film looks big and every frame even when there are no mountains is full of drama and colour. Ajay’s take on the father-daughter relationship works because he manages to cast the right child actor to play his daughter. Abigail who plays Gaura is not only a natural but also immensely likeable without being annoying. Her scenes with Ajay are some of the best moments of the film. Among the action scenes the ones that’s stand out is the big car chase sequence in the first half and the climax where the icy terrain provides the right landscape for building some intense fight scenes. Vir Das provides the much needed comic relief and is a delight to watch. Erika is earnest but her accent seems forced and weak. The title track is super catchy and used at the right moments throughout the film.
As an actor you can’t really help it if your director treats every scene like it’s an extended showreel. But hold on! Ajay directs and acts in Shivaay and that perhaps is the biggest flaw of the film. There are moments when you can see him struggle in a scene only because he’s wondering if the people around him are getting it right. There is that feeling of filing in and compensating for the rest of the crew. But a man can only do that much, and had Ajay decided to just act and blow us away with his action and emotional moments , Shivaay would be a different experience. The lengthy scenes and the second half that endlessly drags its feet are a true test of your patience. Shivaay could have easily been a shorter film with a more gripping narrative had the editing been a bit more stricter.
What to do:
Shivaay has spectacular action scenes, perhaps the best we have seen this year. Watch it for that and the emotional storyline of a father-daughter relationship.
Reviewed by Tushar P Joshi
**** Very good