Pic courtesy: Wikipedia

I’m coining a new name for a genre of films which Bollywood has started producing quite well of late – “Patriotic Suspense Drama”. I think there’s a pretty good job being done there – Babyy, Naam Shabana, Holiday, Special 26, The Ghazi Attack and this latest one – Aiyaari – films that essentially have the armed forces, the police, the people and organisations who protect the nation as the heroes, as also how sometimes some of them fall, but the show goes on, the honour of the nation is upheld. They have Tight plots, lots of action and suspense, no-nonsense and measured performances and they could give a lot of Hollywood films of the same genre a run for their money.

Aiyaar – means a magician. As explained in the film. “Aiyaari matlab Jaadugari – magic!” For the protagonist’s ability to take on different guises as required, to bring the enemy to justice!

This film could’ve been that. Could’ve been a clever suspense drama, had it had a taut plot. What begins as a promising story pans out as a slow, barely-held-together one, inspite of excellent performances and a stellar cast. So stellar in fact, that some of the stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Adil Hussein are wasted in small roles!

And yet this story of a clever, honest unit chief of a covert unit of the Indian Army who must bring one of his most promising, but now-gone-rogue officer to the book and in the process save his entire unit from exposure too is engaging. It stresses the fact once again of how a handful of honest people in the system keep it together and work to weed out corruption, not for earning accolades but for keeping the common man and the country safe. The true heroes remain unsung and unseen.

Sharp editing would’ve done wonders for this film. A half hour of less running time could’ve easily been achieved without compromising on the story. Also, the finale of (very obviously) linking it to the Adarsh scam was a bit tenuous.

Performances – excellent! Siddharth Malhotra is finally learning to perform – I found his performance in Ittefaq engaging too. Earlier I used to find him just stony-faced. But he is learning to use the stony-faced expression to actually convey expressions! Manoj Bajpayee, Vikram Gokhale, Kumud Mishra – performances par excellence! The ladies don’t have too much to do, but manage well.

Watch if you don’t mind the slow pace, because inspite of it, the build-up of the story is good. Wait for the TV premiere if you are short on patience and can’t sit for over two hours.

My verdict: 4 stars out of 5 for the performances. 2.5 stars out of 5 for the story.

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