Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Rakul Preet Singh, Pooja Chopra, Adil Hussain, Kumud Mishra, Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher
Neeraj Pandey is one such director who always comes up with interesting storyline and ensemble cast. Similar the case is with 'Aiyaary', which takes you into the corrupt system that is prevailing in the government and armed forces.
An astutely mounted and engaging suspense thriller, the film is told in Neeraj Pandey's inimitable style of a cat and mouse chase between an army officer and his subordinate. The plot even ends in a chase: Not through the streets but through a labyrinth of facts, alibis and official corruption. And, despite the disclaimer offered at the beginning of the film, the truth can't be camouflaged.
The narrative, in a non-linear manner, begins with informing us about two officers; Colonel Abhay Singh and Major Jai Bakshi, absconding from their line of duty in the Special Coveted Services, read 'Intelligence Department'.
Then in a flashback, four days earlier, we are given to understand that Major Jai Bakshi, Colonel Abhay's blue-eyed boy is on the run after siphoning off sensitive and classified data from his office. He is termed a traitor.
Hurt and feeling betrayed, Colonel Abhay Singh is after him to bring him to book.
And through the chase we realize that Jai is leading us from an initial personal involvement to the indictment of the rot, trying to expose the military men and their nexus with the arms dealers, and the construction lobby, thereby refusing to co-exist within the corrupt system.
In this film, though one-dimensionally portrayed, the writing outshines the performances.
Manoj Bajpayee, an exceptional actor, except for a few scenes including the one when he goes undercover as a vagabond, lacks luster. As the fearless Colonel Abhay Singh who shoots people at point blank range, he is by and large mediocre and unimpressive.
Actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Adil Hussain, Kumud Mishra and Rajesh Tailang, provides occasional flashes of competence. The wishy-washy screenplay simply does not give them enough to work with.
A below-par Sidharth Malhotra, playing a young, idealistic army officer who goes rogue in order to take on the establishment, does not help matters. His oh-so-cool demeanor is totally out of place in a world where danger is a constant. Having defied his bosses and challenged the system single-handedly, he should logically have been an all worked-up and shifty figure lurking in the shadows. He isn't. Malhotra comes across as a guy out on a walk in the park.
Rakul Preet Singh as Jai's love interest Sonia and Pooja Chopra as Captain Maya and the character who plays Abhay's wife are there to balance the otherwise totally male-oriented cast.
Shot in locales that include New Delhi, Kashmir, London, Cairo and Mumbai, the film has good production but that not going to help as the bewildering mess. The film is scattered at many places and slow pace of the film is definitely killing the film.
With a run-time of two hours and forty minutes the film is a bit lengthy and will leave you feeling repentant about your decisions.