Aiyyaa is a film of moments. There’s moments in which you’re truly moved, in which you truly smile and in which you truly feel the confusion that Meenaxi Deshpande (Rani Mukherji) is feeling. Sadly these moments are few and far apart. The rest of your time is spent in exercising your patience and in hope that those moments will return.
For Meenaxi life is much more than chasing a groom simply because society demands a woman of her age to do so. She is a dreamer and as over the top as those dreams may appear onscreen, they’re in fact dreams of every common girl. A bit of freedom and a relationship that isn’t built on a forced alliance but rather on love. As she’s working toward the former dream by taking up the job of a librarian in an art school she meets Surya (Prithviraj). He’s tall, dark (so she says), handsome and carries an aura of mystery around him. Its the ‘scent’ (in the literal sense) of Surya that draws Meenaxi to him and before she knows it she’s pretty much stalking him. All the while her family is busy bringing in prospect grooms for her. Aiyyaa is the story of Meenaxi’s dilemma as she chooses between a practical relationship and love.
My synopsis doesn’t do justice to the movie and in fact that is a good thing. Why? Because the movie is nothing as sensible as I’ve made it out to be. Meenaxi’s journey is filled with the most cringe worthy characters you’ll ever encounter. Don’t be surprised if there are moments when you want to violently react towards her over the top family and her supremely annoying co-worker. Who in the right mind writes such nonsense characters and expects them to entertain us even in the slightest bit? They definitely are not, if that was the reaction Sachin Kundalkar was going for.
The screenplay only takes off when Meenaxi finally gets engaged. Prior to that you watch repeated takes on how obsessed Meenaxi is with Surya which involves a whole lot of Rani sniffing around. Was it so hard to just say she was attracted to his smell and not have her sniffing around the streets and valleys continuously.
Your patience is put the ultimate test prior to the climax portion when Surya and Meenaxi finally meet and instead of witnessing their conversation you’re forced to watch whatever-the-heck her deranged brother and co-worker are doing in the song ‘What to Do’. What to do, you wanted to see where it ends and since you’d been there for the last 2 hours you thought you should see the movie through. So you bare it all with gritted teeth.
To my relief Rani was not as embarrassing in the entire film as she appears in the promos.(Yes I feel second hand embarrassment for this lady on a more than frequent occasion). Minus the songs and the sniffing thing (which is just an annoying trait of her character) she’s quite a pleasant watch. Prithviraj isn’t given much to do until the very end and even then its just a couple of very simple scenes. An actor of his calibre got a raw deal no doubt. Baring Subodh Bhave, who essays his part very convincingly, the rest of the cast can only be described in one word: annoying!
Songs are reasonably well placed with the obvious exception of What to Do and the Lavani number which honestly could have been left out. Aga Bai, Dreamum and Mahek Bhi are well utilised to bring forward the story. Dreamum is quite relevant given Meenaxi’s dream sequence whilst watching a South film. However in making it loud and Southie they ended up making it look like a terrible and disturbing rip off of Dirty Picture’s Oh La La.
You leave Aiyyaa with a distinct feeling that this could have been something great. If only the makers weren’t as attention seeking as they came across. Had it been a simple story minus the forced loudness it would actually be a decent watch. Seems like the were hell bent on making a ‘mad’ film and that is what brings the film crashing down. It suffers from a serious case of over thinking. The decent 45 mins in the end (minus What to Do) although commendable perhaps isn’t worth you sitting their for the first two hours. Truth be told I’ve not even covered the majority of its shortcomings because otherwise this review would be release in multiple parts. However its safe to say that you’ve been fairly warned now so make your decision wisely (or just sit close to the exit door).