Cast: Ajay Devgn, Abigail Eames, Erika Kaar, Sayyeshaa, Vir Das, Girish Karnad
Director: Ajay Devgn
There are a few sizeable moments in Shivaay before interval when the film soars to the thrilling heights of a big commercial blockbuster. These moments belong to the kinetic, death-defying, vroom-vroom chases on the streets of Bulgaria that ensue the moment Shivaay (Ajay Devgan) spots his little daughter being kidnapped by evil goras. These moments are what makes Shivaay worth a watch and that, in no small measure, is what the power of an action star like Ajay Devgn is all about. But alas, in a film that’s almost three hours long, the soaring, thrilling moments are too few and far between. The film plays out in flashback.
The story, chronologically, begins in the Himalayas. He, Shivaay, is conducting a trek, while she, Olga (Erika Kaar), is getting besotted by this man who smokes a chillum. Olga is a hottie and Shivaay has the hots for her. And the Himalayas, smelling their horny hormones, connive to give them some privacy for carnal activity. An avalanche, after establishing Shivaay’s daredevilry, isolates them from others. There’s lusty snogging and romantic making-out in a little tent that hangs precariously in a setting that’s majestic and mythical. The romance continues overground and soon she’s preggers. But Olga, who has a life and a family in Bulgaria, doesn’t want the child. But he does. So he insists, persists, even trying the old “tumhare andar ki maa” nonsense.
Feminist, free Olga relents, but only on humanitarian grounds. She’s clear that she’ll leave the moment the gynaecologist takes off her coat. Years pass and Gaura, who looks like her mother (thank god!), grows up climbing mountains and generally being a spoilt brat. Like her cute predecessor Munni from Bajrangi Bhaijaan, she can’t speak. But she can hear. Shivaay dotes on her and so, when she reads a letter written by her mother and throws her first really annoying fit, they are off to Bulgaria to look for mummy. Almost immediately upon landing, Shivaay sees something disturbing that involves a child and intervenes, thus irritating Bulgaria’s underbelly that thrives on child prostitution.
Actor Ajay Devgn does big, primal emotions well. Small and subtle not so much. The same is the case with his direction. When Shivaay is in action zone, the film is fun and fabulous. When it’s in personal, emotional situations, it’s too infantile and idiotic. Another issue I have with Shivaay is that the myth of Shiv that Ajay Devgn’s character promises conjures up more drama in our head than on screen. The Shiv connect is at best nebulous. Apart from giving the hero an icy abode, a chillum, and making him frisky with ladies after some intended innuendo talk, it amounts to little.I was looking forward to basking in the joy of the silly, big budget film with the inevitable, grand climax. I didn’t get that.