Director: Ajay Devgn Cast: Ajay Devgn, Erika Kaar, Abigail Eames, Sayyeshaa Saigal, Girish Karnad, Vir Das, Saurabh Shukla By Saibal Chatterjee Every time the eponymous protagonist of Shivaay swings into action, a Shiva anthem on the soundtrack eggs him on to keep going. It’s a war cry that sounds peppy enough but, like the rest of the turgid film, it makes very little sense. Ajay Devgn’s second film as director is a super-ambitious actioner shot in the Balkan Mountains and featuring an international cast led by the star himself. But the result that it yields is way, way short of riveting.
A film that revolves around a father fighting violently to rescue his deaf-mute daughter from the Russian mafia in a foreign land should have reduced the audience to emotional pulp. What it does instead is leave us completely cold. Shivaay strings together some stunning visuals and a few electrifying action and chase sequences, but the film, for all the technical and material resources that have been showered on it, fails to kick into top gear. The film’s hero (Devgn) is an infallible mountaineer who falls in love with a Bulgarian damsel Olga (Erika Kaar) and fathers a baby girl out of wedlock. The young mother returns to her country, leaving Shivaay the job of raising the child. Eight years later, the daughter, Gaura, (Abigail Eames), who can hear but cannot speak, stumbles upon the truth behind her birth. So, Shivaay and Gaura fly to Sofia so that the girl can see her mother for the first time.
But no sooner does the duo land in the alien country than a major crisis erupts. Gaura is kidnapped by child traffickers and an hopping mad Shivaay finds himself at odds with the Bulgarian law. In his dangerous mission to rescue his abducted daughter, Shivaay receives help from an Indian embassy girl, Anushka (Sayyeshaa Saigal), who flips for the harried father-turned-mean machine. Shivaay is crammed with perilous high-altitude sequences and high-energy action scenes, captured with panache by DoP Aseem Bajaj. Where the film is found wanting is in its patchy screenplay (Sandeep Shrivastava).
The characters seem to act on unexplained whims and the situations that their actions spark are, therefore, marked by randomness. The emotional bond between Shivaay and his daughter is suggested in many different ways but it does not leave a deep enough impression on the mind and heart for the audience to really care for the characters. That apart, the vicious antagonists that Shivaay encounters in Bulgaria are so shadowy that they never come into their own.
So when the hero takes them on, the audience isn’t fully invested in the confrontation. Technically sparkling, Shivaay the film does not scale the heights that Shivaay the man does without breaking a sweat. If only the film had realized even half its ambition, it would have been a cut well above the rest. It isn’t because Shivaay is so overly in awe of its visible, physical trappings that it neglects putting some effort into imparting depth to its narrative under-wiring. PTI
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