I saw Shivaay tonight! Because it was the practical thing to do based on theater schedules, even though everyone else is seeing ADHM. I’m glad I saw it, not necessarily glad I saw it before ADHM.
Ajay is just so cool. After the first five minutes of the movie (mind-blowing action!), my friend turned to me and said “so, he’s like the coolest Sherpa ever?” And yes, that’s exactly what he’s like! It starts out with kind of unbelievable Sherpa action. And then it just turns into regular unbelievable action. But like, really really unbelievable! And really really good too. Which caused the conflicting reactions of “HOW THE HECK DID HE KNOW HOW TO DO THAT?!?!?!” and “I don’t care, that was too cool to ruin with logic!!!!”
The biggest problem with the movie is that there just wasn’t enough action. Or comedy. Or romance. It was mostly angst and bad dialogue, mixed with awesome action. Towards the end there is a slightly comic character introduced, and it’s like you can finally take a clean breath! Otherwise you’re just drowning in the jello of emotions.
I couldn’t help comparing it to Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which pretty clearly influenced it. Right down to the little mute girl. But Bajrangi Bhaijaan kept things light, even when it went really dark. There was a little romance with Kareena in the first half, a little comedy with Nawazuddin in the second half. It made the whole message about the little girl in trouble a lot easier to swallow.
But this, man! So much love and meaning and all that, I kept gagging on it. Big treacly emotions that just went on and on and on. And then, FINALLY, the first real action set piece comes in, and the plot actually starts going, well over an hour in. There’s 4 big action bits, and tons of smaller ones. And they are all just on a whole other level, more “real” than anything I’ve seen before in Indian film, but more imaginative than anything I’ve seen in American films. If the whole movie had just been action-action-action, it would have been one of the best movies I’d seen this year.
But instead of being action-action-action, it’s sappy-sappy-sappy-ACTION-sappy-sappy-sappy-ACTION-sappy-sappy-ACTION-sappy.
And the sappy bits didn’t even make sense! They kept changing meaning and losing track of the point. I kind of liked it at the beginning, because Indian films don’t always have an emotional underpinning to their action scenes. I liked the idea that there would be a consistent driving force for our hero through it all. And that we would get to see our hero under emotional stress before we saw him under physical stress. But the emotions kept changing, we have a whole movie plot in just the backstory, and then there’s a whole other movie after that, and then finally the “real” movie starts with the ACTION bits. But no! That didn’t resolve it all after all! More emotion at the end, a whole new character with her own emotions sprinkled in the middle, so confusing!
The one line that connects beginning to end is the idea of father and daughter love. Which is an interesting idea, especially for an Ajay movie, considering his well-known love for his daughter. And in this movie we get to see a bunch of different angles of it, lots of father-daughter love stories as it were. But it’s ultimately just way way too much. They could have cut out whole characters and storylines without damaging the film at all. Improving it even!
Normally I am all about the female characters, since they are easier for me to relate to, but in this movie I would have cut them all! No need for them. It’s all about Ajay, who is completely Ajay-riffic in this. Erika Kaar is fine, but she really doesn’t need nearly as a big a role as she has. Sayyesha Saigal is 19, and acts pretty good for a 19 year old (not as good as Ajay’s wife did at the same age, in Baazigar), but she doesn’t really need to be in the movie at all. Just make it a story of Ajay and his daughter, and the many many men Ajay is beating up, and the whole thing would be a lot stronger.
I’m still glad I saw it, this is definitely a movie to see on the big screen, and it’s definitely an ambitious leap forward in terms of action sequences. And Ajay is great. And the title song is great. You just have to kind of hold your nose and wade through all the other stuff.