AIYYAA | 13 October, 2012

 Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Anu­rag Kashyap Films Pvt. Ltd.’s Aiyyaa (UA) is the story of a Maha­rashtrian girl, Meenakshi Deshpande (Rani Mukerji). She hails from a middle-class family and lives with her mother (Nirmiti Sawant), father (Satish Alekar), grandmother (Jyoti Subhash) and younger brother, Nana (Ameya Wagh). She works in an art college and is enamoured by a student, Surya (Prithviraj), who is a South Indian. Of course, her parents are unware of her one-sided love affair and are, in fact, desperately trying to find a good Maharashtrian boy with whom they can marry her off.

Meenakshi is a bubbly girl who dreams of a glamorous lifestyle like that led by Bollywood heroines. In fact, she has a secret desire to be a Bollywood actress herself. Surya is a painter and quite mysterious because he doesn’t speak to anyone in the college. Meenakshi learns to speak a bit of Tamil to impress him but to no avail. She is attracted to the smell his body exudes and, at one point, thinks, it is the smell of drugs he does. Meenak­shi once even barges into his home and speaks to his mother without revealing her true identity, but nothing comes out of that. Like a besotted lover, Meenakshi keeps following Surya who doesn’t so much as even acknowledge her presence.

Meenakshi’s engagement is fixed by her parents to a nice Maharash­trian boy, Madhav (Subodh Bhave). However, she runs away from home on the day of her engagement, without telling anyone anything. Madhav arrives with his family and relatives to Meenakshi’s house for the engagement ceremony, clueless about her feelings for Surya. On her part, Meenakshi finally gets a chance to express her love to Surya.

What happens then? Does Mee­nakshi live happily ever after with Surya or Madhav or none of them? Does anybody get to know of her affair with Surya? What is the truth about Surya – does he do drugs?

Sachin Kundalkar’s story moves at a snail’s pace as there’s nothing much to convey. His screenplay becomes repetitive as Meenakshi keeps following the scent of Surya. In fact, the scent angle irritates after a point of time and becomes unintentionally funny. The contrast of good and bad smells because Meenakshi is used to the smell of filth since a huge dust bin is kept right outside her house, is sought to be underlined but that hardly comes across to the audience.

Meenakshi’s family members are so loud and unreal that the audience wonders which planet they are from. The grandmother, especially, screams like a maniac, moving about on her mechanically operated wheelchair. In contrast, Surya speaks so little that even that is unusual and irritating.

The drama progresses so slowly that it seems that a half-hour story has been stretched to two-and-a-half hours. While some comic scenes and dialogues (also penned by Sachin Kundalkar) are very funny and entertaining, the thin story-line and the over-stretched screenplay get on the viewers’ nerves. The angle of the scent of a man would definitely not appeal to a large section of the audience which will, therefore, find the drama boring, repetitive and, if one may say so, quite meaningless too. The track of Meenakshi’s colleague, Maina (Anita Date), with Meenakshi’s bro­ther, Nana, looks forced. While comedy is sought to be created out of the outlandish members of Meenakshi’s family, that comedy entertains only upto a point.

Rani Mukerji lives the role of Meenakshi and tries to rise above the mediocre script. She is first-rate in comic as well as dramatic scenes. Her sexy dances may shock some of her fans but they are definitely very nice. Prithviraj seems like a prop in the film. He has a superb physique which he exposes uninhibitedly in the song-dance numbers but he hardly gets any scenes to act in. Subodh Bhave puts up an earnest show as Madhav. Nirmiti Sawant acts ably as Meenakshi’s mother. In the role of Meenakshi’s father, Satish Alekar is okay. Ameya Wagh is a bit too loud as Nana. Jyoti Subhash confuses shouting and screaming for acting. Anita Date is not half as funny as she should’ve been in the role of Maina, Meenakshi’s colleague in college. Shubhangi Damle and Chandrakant Kale fit the bill as Madhav’s parents. Kishori Ballal is okay as Surya’s mother. Pakada Pandi is alright as the canteen boy. Others are so-so.

Sachin Kundalkar’s direction seems laboured as the effort to make the viewers laugh shows. Amit Trivedi’s music is good. ‘Dreamum wakeup­um’, ‘Aga bai’, ‘Heroine mujhe banaa dena’ and ‘Wakda’ are well-tuned numbers and their lyrics (Amitabh Bhattacharya) are also very interesting. The ‘Do na’ song is naughty, lyrically speaking. Its music is also good. Choreography (by Vaibhavi Merchant) is eye-filling. Amit Trivedi’s background music could’ve been better. Amalendu Choudhary’s cinematography is nice. Ashok Lokre’s art direction is alright. Abhijeet Deshpande’s editing is okay.

On the whole, Aiyyaa is not the kind of love story which would find universal appeal. Rani Mukerji and the music are its plus points, and the dull script, its biggest minus point. Its run at the cinemas will be less than ordinary. It has taken a dull start and not much will change because the film lacks entertainment. Recovery of even the medio­cre investment of Rs. 16-18 crore (Rs. 9 crore by way of cost of production and Rs. 7-9 crore by way of cost of promotion and release) may be a difficult proposition, but the loss will not be huge, thanks to recoveries from non-theatrical sources, mainly satellite rights.

Released on 12-10-’12 at Regal (daily 1 show), New Excelsior (daily 2 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures. Publicity: very good. Opening: dull. …….Also released all over. Opening was below the mark at many places.