We open with the coolest part of the film (although not my favorite, part, that comes at the very end). A bunch of guys in army uniform are standing looking up with binoculars asking if they think he will be able to do it. And then we pan up to the top of the mountain, and there’s Ajay laying (lying?) without his shirt, with his big back tattoo showing, smoking a funny looking pipe, which I assume has hashish/marijuana in it. And then, as the title song starts up, Ajay rises, puts on a leather jacket, pulls out his grappling hooks, and jumps off the side of the mountain!!! And then as the song continues, he uses hooks and ropes and leaping and tumbling, and finally jumps out and grabs a branch of a tree, and then leaps to the ground, landing in front of the army guys. Who offer him money because it was a bet? But then also thank him for guiding them up the side of the mountain for some army reason and offer him a civilian medal. Which he turns down, because he’s just that noble. But, I’m still not sure what the medal is for? Is it for free-forming down the side of the mountain just now? Did that have some kind of military purpose? Or did he do something else for them, and then take off to jump down a mountain with no shirt for no real reason? I’m so confused!!!! Anyway, it was really cool looking.
After saying good-bye to the army guys, Ajay takes his jeep into town and jokes with the more central asian looking guy selling things to tourists, who is asking if he can go on the next trek Ajay takes up. Ajay agrees, and suddenly they are back in the jeep, joking around. One of the tourists they are taking on the trek is all nervous, and the central asian looking guy is teasing him, and then he starts teasing Ajay about how he is stuck sitting next to this coward, and a beauty took the seat next to Ajay, and he isn’t even looking at her. Ajay and he start talking about her beautiful eyes and hair and reciting poetry, and when the woman (Erika Kaar) asks what they are saying, they lie and say they are talking about the scenery. And then of course she does the thing where suddenly she speaks Hindi! They are agast!
You know, whenever I understand Hindi that people think I can’t understand, it’s something really boring about what they are having for dinner, or when Dad is coming to pick them up, or something. It’s never romantic poetry about my beauty! Or maybe that’s the part I can’t understand, they say something about “let’s go, we need to eat” and then they add “The beauty of that white woman browsing the DVD shelves is such that it takes my breath away!”, only it’s in fancy Urdu style so I can’t understand it. That must be it.
Oh right, Erika finds this charming instead of creepy, because Ajay is directing this movie and he is all about everyone finding him wonderful at all times. She continues to be charmed that night, while they all drink beer and dance around a fire above the snowline. In short-shorts. Because that’s what I always wear when there is snow on the ground! Ajay is off to the side, being cool and smoking his funky marijuana pipe. Erika goes over to talk to him, and they flirt by talking about Shiva? I guess that’s sexy. She asks if he has everything Shiva has (I’m just going to assume Shiva is famous for his penis? Oh! Is he the Lingam God?). He shows her all his tattoos (again, so cold! Why would you drop your shirt, even to show a hot girl your tattoos), and then she sloooooooooowly walks away and goes into her tent, with a final look back. And I think maybe they have sex that night? Because the next day they are climbing a mountain, and she is teasing him in a way that makes it seem like they maybe already slept together. Man! Bulgarian chicks are easy!
(According to this movie, this is what Ajay’s penis looks like)
Oh, and then the most ridiculous part of the movie happens. Ajay and Erika look off at the sunset, standing right on the edge of the mountain, she talks about her plans to go back to Bulgaria (now that she has finished her degree at an Indian university. Are there really a lot of international students coming to India?), and Ajay says something about how “that country is troubled.” Really? Ajay, remote mountain guide, has the current state of various eastern European governments at his fingertips? I certainly don’t know what the economic state of Bulgaria is! Oh, but that’s not the ridiculous part.
In the middle of this conversation, Ajay notices a sound, and pauses to make a cool statement about how our plans don’t matter with the unexpected, and only then warns the group that there is an avalanche coming! Terrible terrible mountain guide behavior! Oh, and then he throws a rope across the nearby crevasse, slides across it, then starts sending the rest of the group across on the improvised zipline. Erika is the last, but before they can go, she points out that there is someone else there, hiding behind a rock. Wait, Ajay, THEIR GUIDE, didn’t notice that one of his people wasn’t part of the group? Is it possible that he knows all the details of European economy, but somehow never learned how to count? Oh, but that’s not the ridiculous part.
They send the coward across, he get’s stuck halfway, Ajay freeform zips over to him and drags him across, then sees Erika is still stuck on the wrong side, zips back to her, grabs her, dives into the tent nearby, and throws a grappling hook as the snow sweeps them off the side, managing to hook them onto something, so the tent dangles in the middle of the crevasse. Oh, but that’s not the ridiculous part. Even the bit where you think “Wait, shouldn’t a good guide have already tied the tents down in some way instead of needing to throw a rope at the last minute?” Nope, still not ridiculous.
What’s ridiculous is that Erika wakes up, and Ajay calmly tells her that her ankle is broken, but he gave her pain medicine. And then she looks out the door of the tent, which is still unzipped for some reason (no, that’s not the ridiculous part) and sees that they are hanging off the side of a mountain and starts freaking out. She doesn’t want to die, not because she is afraid for herself, but because her invalid mother and younger sister are counting on her and she can’t let them down. Well, then WHY DID YOU GO ON A DANGEROUS MOUNTAIN CLIMBING TRIP?!?!?!?!?!? But that’s not the ridiculous part. The ridiculous part is that Ajay responds by having sex with her. ?!?!?!?!
And yes, the tent gets to rockin’, and comes loose, but then catches again, and then comes down again, and then catches. But they don’t care, because Ajay is all cool and nihilistic, and his magical Shiva penis is so awesome that Erika is distracted from her impending death. And her broken ankle. What kind of awesome pain killers did he give her?
(Pretty shot. NOT SEXY! Cold and scary and painful)
Next morning, helicopter shows up with the central asian looking kid leaning out of it, so I guess he radioed for help or something. Also, I know it’s not my tax dollars, but it’s somebody’s tax dollars, or charitable donations, or something, that is going to rescue these idiots who voluntarily went on a dangerous trek and then had sex all night. Such a waste! Anyway, happy song!
Erika lives with Ajay while she recovers from her broken ankle, they clearly love each other, but he can’t survive outside of his mountains, and she has to go back to Bulgaria for her family, so they are all set to sadly say good-bye. But then suddenly she is talking to a doctor who is talking about “the first three months”, and Ajay wanders in and overhears. And then drags her to the car, drives super fast through town, almost hits his central asian friend (“gee, thanks for saving our lives, now I’ll almost run you over!”), finally parks outside their house, and then yanks her inside, sits her down, and hands her a glass of milk. She knocks it away. He hands her another one. And then they have a Big Conversation.
I’m not thrilled with a man pressuring a woman to have a child she doesn’t want. But at least they are having a Big Conversation, it’s not that he is just forcing her or, even worse, that there is a pretense that she wouldn’t be considering other options. And her reasons aren’t “evil”, she already has a family to take care of, she can’t just forget them and focus on this potential child. And his reasons aren’t about her being “unwomanly” or a general dislike of abortion. It’s because he really wants a child, his child and her child. Although I don’t think he says “child”. The subtitles don’t care, they keep saying Ajay is talking about a “baby”, which bugs me, because of course that language is so loaded. It makes it sound like he is saying she is killing their baby. But I think he is really saying “uski” or something like that, and I didn’t hear “mard” so it is more “ending this” than “killing baby”, which is a very different discussion. Ajay just wants a chance, he wants her to be here for 9 months and then give him the baby that will arrive after that.
I am a little irritated that this discussion is just about her not wanting the concept of a baby, not the more immediate concerns of potential health risks that always come with giving birth, especially in a remote mountain village with constant earthquakes and avalanches. And that they don’t talk about how just giving him 9 months could mean a lot to her poor mother and sister waiting in Bulgaria. But at least they do have a real discussion, and her concerns are heard, so that’s something.
And, song! We cut straight from Erika looking at that glass of milk, to Ajay and a little girl climbing a mountain together, and then a happy montage song of her childhood. The little girl is mute, although she can hear, but can’t talk clearly? And only communicates in sign language only her father can understand? Plus, she is played by Abigail Eames, who looks about 12. But her character is supposed to be 8. So she is a 12 year old acting like an 8 year old, who makes gutteral sounds and communicates in gestures. The whole thing is just odd!
It’s a clear rip-off of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Only Bajrangi Bhaijaan had THE BEST LITTLE GIRL EVER, who was also playing close to her own age, so it was a lot more charming. And, more importantly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan was showing an actual thing that happens, delayed speech, fairly common, and happens just like it is shown in the movie, for whatever reason some kids just don’t speak until they are 3-4-5-6 years old. I guess there are also small children with speech issues related to mouth shape and stuff, who end up with this kind of speech disorder, but it seems needlessly complicated. And, very frustrating since Ajay isn’t handling it nearly as well as the parents in Bajrangi Bhaijaan! He isn’t teaching her real sign language, just the hand signals only they understand. And he doesn’t seem to be encouraging her to try to communicate better through speech, or even writing. Unlike the Bajrangi Bhaijaan parents who were willing to sell all their sheep (I’m still worried about those sheep) and travel across the border if there was a slight chance it would help. And were focused on getting that help sooner rather than later because of school and socialization and all of that, unlike Ajay who is okay just taking his daughter to climb mountains with him all day.
(Best little girl EVER!)
Of course, the real point isn’t to teach us about speech disorders, but rather to make it so a child actor doesn’t have to deliver lines. But if that’s the case, why not cast a real 8 year old? Why go for this so-so 12 year old? Grrr! So frustrating! (or “fwustwating”, as I used to say when I had my own adorable little speech impediment until my parents got me speech therapy and it was fixed by the time I was 8). Oh, and he named her “Gaura”. Does that mean “white girl”? Or am I miss-remembering? If it does mean “white girl”, OH MY GOSH AJAY!!!! Both the Ajay the father character and Ajay the producer really really need to have more imagination!
Their happy life is destroyed when an earthquake hits after Ajay has put Gaura to bed one night, and he goes out to smoke his funky marijuana pipe. Father of the Year right here! Doesn’t get his daughter speech therapy, takes her on dangerous mountain climbing trips, and gets high while she is sleeping inside the house. And then takes like 5 minutes to register what is happening (because High), before finally rushing in and carrying her outside.
But that’s not what destroys their happy life. No, it’s later when Gaura is digging through the wreckage of the house and finds a photo and letter from her mother. And then does a very poorly acted freak out. Which isn’t on the child actress, I am sure she is doing the best she can, but is on Ajay the director who didn’t come up with a better way to show this besides random guttural yells and flinging of hands.
Lots of back and forth and anger I don’t even remember in detail, and finally Ajay reads the letter in voice over so the audience can learn what the heck is going on. Erika refused to even look at the child because she didn’t want to make it impossible to leave. And she asked Ajay to tell the baby her mother is dead, so she won’t know her mother abandoned her. Huh. That’s actually not the most unhealthy way to deal with this. It’s not the most healthy, that would have been for Erika to say good-bye and get closure before she left her child, and then maybe get photos and updates through the years. But it’s not super unhealthy to tell this one big lie to Gaura and make everything else the truth.
What is unhealthy is that Gaura seems surprised to even see photos of her mother? Shouldn’t Ajay have been telling stories of her and sharing photos and letting her know that little knit doll she loves was made by her mother? None of that would contradict the big death lie, and it would give Gaura a sense of where she came from. Whatever, maybe all the drug use fried Ajay’s memory and he doesn’t remember any details.
Ajay gives in eventually, in the present, and buys tickets to Bulgaria (using what money? How much does being a mountain guide pay?) for both of them so Gaura can meet her mother. And off we go to Bulgaria! Finally!
On the bus on the way to meet her, Gaura shows Ajay the picture she drew with the words “Why?” written over and over on it. Okay, so she can write, and yet they still communicate through clumsy hand gestures? That’s the real “why”!
At the address Ajay has, they haven’t heard of Erika. Ajay and Gaura walk away, all sad, and Ajay says not to worry, they can ask for help at the Indian embassy. Which is HUGE!!! They must have used some palace or something for the establishing shot, but it looks ridiculous. For one thing, there seem to be only a couple embassy employees for this whole massive place. And for another, how many Indians are in Bulgaria anyway? I bet the real Indian embassy is just a floor in some new office building.
(the real embassy. Not that impressive, right?)
Oh, and we meet our other heroine! Sayyeshaa! How much do you bet Ajay made her change the spelling of her name? Ajay himself is apparently back to “Devgan” instead of “gun” or “gn”, but he’s added an “F” to his production house, now it is “Ajay Devgan Ffilms.” He probably wants the second “f” to be silent, but if he is going to use silly spelling, I am going to use silly pronunciation, and it is now “Ajay Devgan Fuh-Films” to me. Also, whenever people do these bend of backwards numerology spelling things, it just makes me doubt them even more. Because if your movie was really good, would you feel the need to use numerology?
Oh right, Sayyeshaa! Or as she is more commonly known, “Saira Banu’s 19 year old grandniece”. She’s certainly not famous on her own yet, so for now she will need to borrow someone else’s fame. And she is also way way too young for this part. She does okay, but she feels 19. And her character is supposed to be more like 22-24, still young, but old enough to have a responsible position at the Indian embassy. And to be all cool and sophisticated as she blows off Vir Das, the nerdy hacker guy who is talking to her as she strolls into the massive embassy lobby.
And then we suddenly leave Sayyeshaa and check in on the ambassador. Who has a MASSIVE blow up of the Gandhi spinning photo on the wall behind his desk. At which point in the movie theater, my friend and I glanced at each other and started giggling, because they always do something like that in the government office scenes in Indian movies! Flag, Asoka pillar, Gandhi picture, some sort of massive “INDIA” signifier. Although this one is even massive-r than usual.
The ambassador is cheerful and sympathetic, but also a little jokey, which makes Guara angry, so she hits the desk and points around, and Ajay somehow translates that into a sentence. Of course, if he’d taught her internationally recognized sign language, he wouldn’t have to translate. But whatever. The ambassador agrees to help them, and calls in Sayyeshaa, who he introduces as like a daughter to him, to help them. She agrees to call them.
(Hey! She debuted opposite ANR’s other grandson! The one who hasn’t had a hit yet!)
Oh! I totally forgot about their arrival in Sofia! Even before the conversation on the bus with her terrible drawing, They are at some fancy hotel, Ajay is carrying her down the hall because she is already asleep. He sees a couple of men with a skinny sad looking boy. The men knock on a door, a creepy looking old man opens it, and then push the kid in. Ajay watches all this, goes into his own hotel room, lays Gaura down on the bed, and then goes back to the hall and knocks on the door of the other room. The creepy old guy answers, and Ajay slams the door hard, shoving him back against the wall, and then goes in and sees the little boy hiding under the blankets. Cut to, police leading the old guy away in handcuffs and the little boy away all clothes, Ajay notices a burn on the kids hand as he leaves, and then one police officer makes a point of thanking Ajay for what he has done. And I guess Guara slept through the whole thing?
Now, back to the next day, I think it’s as they are leaving the embassy, Ajay is telling Gaura things will work out, she lags a little behind him on the sidewalk, he holds out his hand and calls to her, she drops the picture on the ground and runs to take his hand. This is what I mentioned in my Spoiler review as interesting, how the film keeps having these little moments of showing that a mother isn’t really needed, that Gaura needs her father more. Which just makes sense, considering one parent is a total stranger to her and the other raised her, but is still a bit radical with all the “A Mother’s Love!” sort of arguments you hear in Indian culture. Heck, in all cultures!
Ajay and Gaura stop at a sidewalk cafe for lunch, and Ajay leaves Gaura at the table while he goes to pay. Ajay!!! Why?!?!?! What parent does that, leaves their kid alone at the table? I understand if it is unavoidable, but in this case, they had already finished eating, just make her stand up and walk over to the cashier with you, and then leave together!
Because Ajay is a terrible parent, a black van stops next to the table, and masked figures (weird masks, kind of skill masks) reach out and grab Gaura and pull her into the van. And AWESOME CAR CHASE SCENE!!!!! I can’t even remember all the details of it, just that it is AMAZING! Including that moment from the trailer when Ajay crashes through the front window of a moving cab, shoves the driver out the driver’s side door and keeps driving, all in one smooth swirling camera move. I honestly don’t even know how they filmed that. I don’t how they filmed a lot of this stuff, if the camera was on a a helicopter or fastened to the back of a car in front or what, but these shots just seem impossible!
And that’s not even talking about the actual action! Jumping car to car, hanging off rear bumpers, leaning out the door of a moving car while you have the accelerator set, fighting your way onto and into a moving van, it’s all amazing! And Ajay almost does it, he almost catches up to the van and pulls his daughter out. But at the last minute, he is suddenly surrounded by Bulgarian police cars and cops and the van takes off. Which, that seems fair, over the course of this car chase there were so many flipped cars and people pulled from behind the wheel and everything else, he probably should be arrested.
But not for child-trafficking, which is for some reason what he is charged with? Because his daughter is white? And their passports are in the bag with her so he can’t prove their identity? Really? A desi guy traveling with a white little girl, and everyone immediately things “human trafficking!”? Not “nutso guy who caused 15 traffic deaths”?
Speaking of trafficking, of course that’s what has actually happened to Gaura. She is in some strange mansion with an old guy who says to call him “Uncle Ustinov” (perhaps a tribute to Peter Ustinov, great British actor and random witness to Indira Gandhi’s assassination?). He tells her she has a new name now, and throws both her passport and Ajay’s in the fire, and Gaura gestures from the trailer to indicate that her father will kill him when he finds him.
(You can also think of him as “voice of Prince John from Disney’s Robin Hood“)
Speaking of Ajay, he is in a room with a ton of cops, handcuffed to a wooden table. The cops try to get him to confess to child-trafficking, and naturally this makes him angry. So he rises up, and lifts the table out of the bolts holding it to the floor!!! And then swings it around from his handcuffs, knocking it against the wall and striking at the cops, until the table is in pieces!!! It’s really cool looking, but probably not the best way to get them to drop charges.
Which his embassy lawyer points out, and also tells him that within 72 hours, most trafficked children are either killed and cut up for organs, or taken over the border to another country, never to be seen again. Is there really that big of a market for child-sized organs? I suppose people would be extra desperate and willing to pay top price if they need an organ for a child, but do you really need that many of them? Seems more like a specialty item than a bulk one. Especially once you put in blood type, compatibility, etc. etc. On the other hand, child slaves, totally can see that being a bulk need.
Ajay doesn’t really think through all the blood types and stuff of this argument, more focuses on the 72 hours and that he is wasting them in jail. So that, when he is traveling in the back of a prisoner transport van and looking at a photo of his daughter (they let him keep that?) he has a sudden vision of the photo fading into dust and floating away, which inspires him to ANOTHER AWESOME ACTION SCENE!!!! He has one hand handcuffed to a pole going down the length of the truck, which leads to all these cool moments where he can slide back and forth along the pull, and use momentum to knock out the guards, and so on and so on. It also helps that no one things to shoot him, or use pepper spray or a tazzer or anything besides their bare hands. Oh, until the very end, when the guard driving the van pulls a gun from behind his seat and shoots blindly back into the holding area. Which is stupid in all kinds of ways, not the least because he SHOULD BE WATCHING THE ROAD!!!
And then the van goes off the side of a dam, and a look for little Aamir from Dhoom 3 to be falling next to it, and Ajay sprints out at the last minute. And the closing shot of the first half is Ajay hanging from the bottom of the dam while the police gather on top and start looking for him. INTERVAL
And we’re back! (this movie is too stupid to be worth splitting in two parts). Sayyeshaa is taking tea and medicines to her father, an invalid, and talking about how she left work early so she could make sure he took his medicine. Her father says something about the sacrifice, and she replies that it is no more than he did when he turned down better positions while she was a child so he could be a better father. Again, from my Spoilers review, this is one of those things that is kind of extraneous, but helps with the message of fatherly love being important.
Their conversation is interrupted when her phone rings, it’s Ajay! He wants to meet, he needs help. I guess he memorized her phone number from her business card? The man can’t count members of his trek group during an avalanche, but he can memorize phone numbers at a glance. Sure, I can believe that.
They meet at an abandoned out door theater. It looks very cool and very Aaja Nachle. Sayyeshaa tries to convince him to turn himself in so the embassy can work on proving his innocence, but Ajay argues that he doesn’t have time for that, he has to get his daughter back first. Also, he “hasn’t killed anyone yet, but now he will kill all he stand in his path.” Which sounds cool, but is maybe not true? Does he not count it as a “kill” if it was more sort of secondary? Because I am pretty sure all those people he pulled out of moving cars are dead now. Even if it was because of the speed with which the hit the pavement, not his fingers around their throats.
(I only wish Madhuri showed up to teach them about love and art, instead of a SWAT team)
In the middle of the conversation, a bunch of police guys start swarming, so Ajay gives Sayyeshaa a “Betrayal!” face and then takes her hostage and backs out of the amphitheater. And then drops her onto the steps and takes off running once he is away. Did he really think she wouldn’t call the cops? She’s only met you once! And you seem kind of crazy!
But whatever, I don’t care because we are back to AWESOME ACTION! Ajay walks through the red light district of the city (how does he know where it is? I have no idea where the red light district of my city is, let alone Sofia. Maybe it is related to his amazing knowledge of Eastern European economy earlier. Just something you lean in Sherpa school). A blonde young woman calls out to him, trying to get him to hire her, and switches to Hindi when she sees his face. He turns back, and for a moment I thought maybe it was Erika, which would be an amazing twist, but it’s just some other blonde woman who looks just like her. He asks if she has seen his daughter, and she asks if he has seen her father. She has her own photo, and says that she was brought here from the Ukraine years ago, but her father never came for her. Can Ajay find out if her father is alive? And then her pimp comes to interrupt them and drag her away, and naturally Ajay loses his mind and kills everybody.
This whole sequence is really cool. I don’t think I’ve seen the “I have a photo of my daughter” “I have a photo of my father” exchange before in a movie, and it is an interesting twist on the human trafficking story. And the fight scene is epic! Constant shifts in fighting style depending on the opponent, using the terrain in interesting ways, even using the dangling handcuff that is still attached to his wrist, first as brass knuckles, then as a puncture weapon once he flips them open. And it’s smart, too! Really, what faster way is there to find the trafficker who took your daughter, than just kill everyone in the red light district? One of them is going to be attached to that guy, and you can work back from there!
Which is true. While Ajay is running through brothels, waking up drugged up girls and telling them to run out the door (really hope Bulgaria has better laws than America and these girls aren’t then arrested for prostitution/being undocumented immigrants), “Uncle Ustinov” is getting a call in his mansion, and he sends off his creepy looking private bodyguard, all eye-liner and bald head and big beard. Who arrives just after Ajay has left, to walk through the field of fallen bodies of all the guys who Ajay killed. They’re all bad guys of course, but it is still kind of spooky, just seeing them all.
Meanwhile, back with Sayyeshaa, she is sitting home with her father putting an ice pack on her head. Except he keeps lifting it up and down and up and down off the top of her head. I don’t understand, aren’t you supposed to just leave ice packs in place? And while he is taking care of her, the phone rings, and she doesn’t pick up, and he scolds her, because her father is on Ajay’s side? Because of an abstract concept of fatherly protection, even though wouldn’t you think his non-abstract fatherly protection would be focused on his daughter, who Ajay hurt earlier that night?
And then there is a knock on the door, Sayyeshaa goes to open it, and it’s Ajay! With the random Hindi speaking blonde woman! He brought her to Sayyeshaa’s place so she would be safe. But all the non-Hindi speaking prostitutes he also saved, I guess they are just fine on the street? Sayyeshaa hesitates before bringing the woman in, Ajay says something about how sucky she is for not trusting him/this strange woman, and then takes off. And then Sayyeshaa’s Dad keeps saying “bring her in! bring her in!” And finally, he sloooooooowly raises himself up, legs shaking, out of his wheelchair! Sayyeshaa grabs him just before he falls (she couldn’t have started crossing the room five minutes ago when he first started to stand?), and he says “it is time someone stood up for these lost woman!” Oh my gosh! Like literally standing! In case we didn’t get the metaphor!
In a bigger sense, good on Ajay, talking about human trafficking and forced prostitution and the societal responsibility to address this problem. In a smaller sense, this scene is SO STUPID! Oh, and then there is a song montage. During which my friend and I had this whispered conversation: “what’s that thing called?” “Elektra complex?” “yeah” Ajay is wandering around thinking about his daughter, the blond woman is sobbing while talking on skype with her father, and Sayyeshaa is taking a bath in worlds biggest bath tub and dreaming about her father who keeps turning into Ajay and back again. And now I kind of feel like I need a bath.
The next day, press conference! The Indian embassy is issuing a statement about how Ajay is Gaura’s Dad, and an Indian citizen, and also by the way was in the papers the day before for rescuing a boy from human trafficking, how can he now be a trafficker. And watching this news report, Erika Kaar! In a fancy mansion with a fancy husband! She is all torn and conflicted seeing the news report. And I guess she gets in touch with Sayyeshaa (they probably bond over the double “a”s in their names), because next thing we see is Ajay entering a deserted building filled with servers, and Erika is there!
Big confrontation! She points out that she left her child with Ajay thinking he could take care of her, and now she has been kidnapped! She wants her child back! It starts out looking like she is bitter, but then she shifts into the default mode of everyone in this world and instead starts worshipping Ajay as a God, begging him to do her the favor of bringing back her child. Also, Erika’s Hindi is shockingly good, considering she wouldn’t have used it for 8 years! Maybe she’s been doing online workbooks or something?
Also there is Vir Das, who Sayyeshaa has brought in to hack the police records to find info on Ajay’s case. They find footage of one of the fights from the car chase, when Ajay was punching a guy and he got run over by a truck (again, apparently didn’t count as “killing someone”). By slowing down the footage, they can see that Ajay didn’t even kill this guy a little bit, the truck was following them and swerved to try to hit Ajay, but missed and hit this guy instead.
What kind of a profit margin does this operation have, by the way? At a certain point, if Ajay is killing guy after guy after guy, and bringing police attention and causing traffic jams, wouldn’t it be easier to just let Gaura go? They’ve already lost so much in manpower and infrastructure and unmarked vans!
Oh, and as Vir Das is looking at the footage, the cops are too, with creepy eye-liner guy looking over their shoulder because of course the police are corrupt. Bulgaria is a terrible place! We would know this already, if only we had the kind of international education provided to Himalayan Sherpas. The police manage to evil-y, and instantly, trace the download of the video to the server farm where Ajay and gang are hiding out.
And, fight! Kind of a disappointing one to be honest. We were all primed for the eye-liner guy as the big bad, and then Ajay defeats him and all his buddies kind of easily. Although there is a cool moment when he hooks the handcuff into the eye-liner guy’s mouth, and then strings him up on a big metal hook hanging from the ceiling for some reason until he screams in pain and agrees to tell all and gives up the location of “Uncle Ustinov”.
Ajay and Sayyeshaa go off to Ustinov’s place, while Erika drives a car to the front of the police station with eye-liner guy all trussed up inside. Movie over! Oh no wait, it’s only 2 and a half hours in, that’s not nearly long enough for us to fully appreciate Ajay’s awesomeness! And so it all goes wrong.
Moments before Ajay and Sayyeshaa arrive, a gang of skeleton mask wearing people sneak into the house and kill Ustinov. They arrive to find his dead body, and search the house, discovering a trap door. Down in the spooky cold basement, they find a room filled with children in body bags (again, how cost-effective is this? Lost 12 gundas to kidnap one kid, and then just kill the kid when the police get close?). Anil forces himself to check the body bags, and finally notices his daughter’s doll on the floor next to the last bag. He opens it and breaks down sobbing. Sayyeshaa sobs and sobs too. Sob sob sob. Goes on a bit too long. Feels like maybe they really did go there, did a full Mr. India and killed a little girl. But no, this movie isn’t nearly as dark and hardcore as Mr. India, it’s just the little boy from the hotel. Gaura is presumably still alive, if they can only find her. New plan!
(Mr. India= More guts than Shivaay!)
Ajay strolls into the police headquarters without anyone noticing him, and into a briefing room where the cops are talking about finding who killed eye-liner guy in custody. Oh right, eye-liner guy is dead. I don’t really care. Ajay walks into the back of the room and yells out “Changez”, the name of the Big Bad that they know must be in the police because eye-liner guy was killed in custody. And all but one of the guys in the room turns to look at him. So Ajay knows it must be the guy who didn’t look, who is of course the one cop from way back at the hotel at the beginning who had a line of dialogue. It’s always the actor with the speaking part!
Chase chase chase, Ajay is running through police headquarters, and talking on his bluetooth to let Vir Das know in their van headquarters who the bad guy is. Vir Das tracks “Changez” car and phone, and is able to find the location of the person Changez calls, who is driving a van (presumably with Guara in it) towards the Hungarian border. Hey! I’ve been to Hungary! I saw no human trafficking while there. Or maybe I did and just didn’t notice it? Ajay has also been to Hungary, it’s where Aish almost left him in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Maybe because of those sad past-life associations, or maybe because once she is across the border she will be impossible to get back, Ajay is now very focused on stopping Guara from going to Hungary.
He jumps in a car with Sayyeshaa, that car runs into a tree I think, another car shows up out of no where to block the cops from over-taking them, driven by Erika (nice that she is still involved!), Sayyeshaa and Ajay steal a random truck (Himalayam Sherpa school also has a section on automobile theft, in between European tourism and economy, replacing their section on the dangers of drug use and the importance of speech therapy). Chase chase chase, they keep trying to catch up to Gaura’s van and can’t quite make it on the twisty mountain roads. Finally, the van is right beneath them, but on the other side of the border, so Ajay stops the truck, and reaches in the back where there just happens to be climbing equipment, and then swings himself down the side of the mountain to land on the van, whomp! He quickly reaches in and yanks one bad guy out, then uses his gun to kill the other bad guy, and go around to open the back, and a horde of small children run past him! It’s like emptying a school bus! And we never see these children again. They just run off down an icy frozen mountain road and disappear. I’m sure they’re fine.
But Ajay instinctively grabs Gaura without even looking as she is about to run past. It’s just like when Shahrukh grabs Rani without looking in the middle of “Gumshuda”, but not sexy. And Gaura does a terribly acted freak out, all wild babbling and eyes staring and just feeling super fake and strange. Not even sure why they decided to have her do this, all the other kids ran off without any seeming major trauma (or maybe they were going off for a mass suicide, like lemmings?), why is Gaura all nutso? Ajay finally sings her the song from the happy childhood montage and she calms down. Wait, so was that song something they actually sang to each other? Not just something the audience was hearing over a montage? This is like 4th wall breaking confusing now!
(2:07 in. So sexy!)
Oh, and the happy reunion is interrupted BY HELICOPTERS!!! Evil Changez guy and his gundas are here. Ajay defeats the first half dozen guys, but then he is trapped. Oh, and also shot, but you know bullets don’t hurt movie heroes! Changez and his top bad guy hold Ajay down, and Ajay keeps yelling at Guara to run, but she just stands there like an idiot. Finally, the bad guy makes a move towards her, she starts to run off, the bad guy is distracted, and breaks free. And then grabs hold of Changez and throws both of them over the side of the mountain!!! Free fall! Fall fall fall! Until finally they land on a ledge where we have our Big Bad fight. Also, one of my friends pointed out afterward, if you look at the few establishing shots, there is totally a little foot path running out to either side of this ledge, it’s less “tempting death!” and more “a pleasant Sunday stroll”. Oh, and then the fight ends with Ajay grabbing an icicle and stabbing Changez through the heart, and then pull back to see that the icicle is in the trident shape. Because he’s Shiva. Get it? Do you get it? It’s subtle, they’re just going to show it again from five different angles to make sure we get it.
And hospital! No idea how Ajay got there, what happened to the kids, or all the other guys he killed on the mountain and elsewhere, or why he isn’t spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison in Sofia. Widows, all over the city tonight! Think of the cab drivers, the random motorists, the gundas who were just doing it to support their family, all dead! And does the government care? No! They are in the pockets of the powerful Indian embassy, just letting Indian tourists do whatever they want!
That’s probably also why Erika got so super rich, what with her useful Hindi language skills in the India tourism dominated economy of Bulgaria. Because she is super rich, as we see when Sayyeshaa picks up Ajay at the hospital and takes him to see Gaura, who is all settled in at her mother’s mansion. She shows Ajay her room of ten thousand teddy bears, and her gorgeous fountain, and then someone whistles, and the music turns dark, and we see Erika’s husband smiling at Gaura and handing her a puppy. And they laugh! And she plays! (are we sure this girl doesn’t have some kind of mental disorder?) And then Erika gets down on her knees and folds her hands and silently begs Ajay to let her keep her daughter.
And Ajay does? With no discussion? What the what now? You just leave the kid in Bulgaria, caught off from everything she has ever known, where she doesn’t even speak the language, and where child traffickers roam the streets unchecked by the corrupt police?
Even more what the what now, Sayyeshaa decides waiting at the airport for his plane that will take him away from his daughter for ever is the perfect time for her to explain her feelings. In the most Elektra way possible. She says that good fathers like him are a burden, because their daughters want to fall in love with someone like their father, and there is no one that good. This is probably a real concern for Nyssa, right? I mean, her Dad is not the greatest director, and a bit full of himself, but who is possible tough enough to marry Ajay’s little girl? Maybe Akshay’s son?
(Okay, maybe not Akshay’s son.)
Ajay reacts not at all to this fairly explicit announcement of feelings, and just stands up and starts to go through security. A bit rude! But because he can go through, Gaura! She comes running up and starts grunting and strangely gesturing at him. And, in my favorite part of the whooooooooole movie, a bunch of white extras in the background watch them with perfect Northern European expressions of “there is a big emotional scene going on, I will watch but pretend I am not watching.” So, yeah, Gaura’s going back with him, Sayyeshaa isn’t, they embrace, end of movie. ?!?!?!
And we don’t even get the title song video over the end credits!