REVIEW: Aiyyaa – Rani Mukerji Keeps You Engaged With Her Unabashed Performance

A still from movie 'Aiyyaa'
A still from movie 'Aiyyaa'
A still from movie ‘Aiyyaa’

All I can think is ‘aiyyo’ having struggled through this bizarre film.

Director Sachin Kundalkar takes his Marathi short and pulls and tugs it into a full length feature film to the extent that the plot becomes too slim to stand without toppling over. At the centre is a movie-obsessed Meenakshi Deshpande (Rani Mukerji) whose idyllic and filmy dreams are usually shattered by the pungent and putrid smell of garbage.

Her heightened olfactory sense is what draws her to art student Surya Iyer, a brooding, bloodshot-eyed painter at the college where she works. Many scenes are spent showing Meenakshi breathing in deeply and following his scent around campus, through the town and into dark alleys, seemingly unknown to him.

Highly inspired by European storytelling and theatrical set ups, Kundalkar peoples Meenakshi’s world with over the top characters like her chain-smoking father, her dog-loving-human-hating younger brother, her grandmother in a motorized wheelchair who wears all her gold in her mouth and a Lady Gaga inspired co-worker. Everyone is loud and slightly off their rockers.

Meenakshi’s middle class parents are determined to get their daughter married off. A matrimonial ad paints her to be the quite the contrary of her precocious and headstrong self. Boys are lined up for a meeting at 6 pm and 9 pm, like movie show timings. But Meenakshi wants Surya.

She studies Tamil in order to communicate with him and his mother. Yet she fumbles and falters every time she has an opportunity to break ice with him.

At the same time she goes ahead with meeting boys, almost getting engaged to one ideal gentleman, whose ideal of romance is depicted by Faroque Sheikh and Deepti Naval movies. The love story between Surya and Meenakshi kicks in too late and in one scene the tables stand turned.

In between the protracted romance, the scenes fringe on the burlesque, the story threatens to fall apart time and again. As you reach the climax, the director segues to a wild seduction scene that is hard to stomach. Thankfully Rani Mukerji keeps you engaged with her unabashed performance – jelly-belly moves, ‘Dreamum wakeupum’ (best part of the movie) et al.

This is a make-believe world but attempts at realism creep in without meshing, such as Meenakshi pronouncing certain English words clumsily yet, as the Pune girl, she speaks pure Hindi normally.

Prithviraj is saddled with a two-dimensional role and few dialogues. He provides visual eye candy but has no opportunity to show off his acting chops.

Kundalkar mixes up the metre, style and rhythm to such an extent that you keep wondering about the weirdness of it all.

Rating: **

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Udita Jhunjhunwala

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