Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sayyeshaa, Erika Kaar, Abigail Eames, Vir Das, Girish Karnad and Saurabh Shukla
Director: Ajay Devgn
Rating: 2/5 stars
It is difficult to imagine why a cinematically knowledgeable person like Ajay Devgn chose the script of Shivaay and even decided to direct it. Everything he is known for, from choosing a strong script with no melodrama, to the core focus on the storyline, Shivaay distorts it.
Shivaay (Ajay Devgn) is a mountaineer and he is a great trekker. One day, he falls in love with a Bulgarian girl Olga (Erika Kaar) when she is trekking with him. Soon, their love blossoms but Olga now has to go back to Bulgaria where her life awaits. Shivaay is now happily living with his daughter Gaura (Abigail Eames) whom he has told that her mother is dead. Upon knowing the truth, Gaura insists on meeting her mother once; so Shivaay takes her to Bulgaria. A hazardous incident separates Shivaay from her daughter and now, he will do anything in his power to save her from the monstrous hands. This is where Shivaay becomes a destructor to combat evil.
Written by Sandeep Srivastava and Robin Bhatt, Shivaay’s story is dragged too much. This could have easily been an emotional and simple father-daughter relationship film but their story has so many add-ons that the core theme seemed neglected for a majority of time. The treatment to the romance of Shivaay-Olga was too instant to make any impact. Then comes the silly plot of Shivaay asking Olga for a baby without even getting married. I mean, come on, that was ridiculous. Good writing in terms of Gaura’s character though; she was a sweet kid and had a much needed connect with the audience.
It’s hard to understand why Police would even arrest Shivaay without having any proof or a substantial investigation. That angle was unnatural from the writers just to part him from his daughter. Like I said, the script dealt with multiple characters instead of focusing on the father-daughter aspect. Indian Embassy officer Anushka (Sayyeshaa) was a necessary character but excessive background of her relationship with her father was not required. Audience can comprehend that from the lead protagonist’s narrative. Moreover, Vir Das’ character was way too dumb for a hacker. The writers didn’t need to make him look stupid to add some funny flavor to the serious story. Hackers are nerds; they are smart and please, why tell every hacking process he is doing to get into the Bulgarian police system and all that? This is 2016, everyone knows what hackers do.
Image Source: Ajay Devgn (YouTube)
Coming to direction, I think Ajay Devgn is a far better actor than he is a director. I understand, this is a very ambitious and special film for him and he even has a genuine intention to show us how wonderful a daughter is for a father but his execution is weak and disappoints heavily. Initial scene of Ajay jumping onto the mountains to set a base for his character as an expert trekker was good. However, the romance between him and Erika was shown ordinarily and didn’t have much engaging effect.
As a director, Ajay sweetly manages to depict the bond between Shivaay and his sweet daughter. That is the only thing which makes this movie tolerable. This is a story that could have been told in 2 hours or less but I don’t understand why Devgn took so much length to come to a point. The film starts going downhill when Shivaay reaches Bulgaria. The first chase scene was stretched like a rubber and you seriously want it to end even when you have Ajay Devgn on screen, fighting. You can’t maintain a thrill for so long.
Just when you think Shivaay is into the destructive mode, we are thrown into Anushka and her father’s story which takes a song to tell. This is unreal from a skillful Ajay Devgn. Many might even compare this film with Liam Neeson’s ‘Taken’ but I didn’t like that film either. After two and a half hours, when the film could have given a straightforward ending, it gives some more melodramatic touches causing an eventual irritation. Add to that end, some senseless dialogues from Sayyeshaa’s character. In short, the core emotional narrative of a father’s love for his daughter gets lost in an effort to include multiple characters.
Ajay Devgn, one of my favorite actors, takes command of the role as always. With his intense heavy eyes doing the talking, he carries the role of a mountaineer pretty decently. His bonding with Erika and especially with Abigail was sweet. It felt realistic and pure. I loved the scenes where Gaura keeps hitting him and he is trying to calm her down. It takes a great actor to let you feel the pain of the character. The shot where he cries like a helpless person in the basement was incredible. His destructive side was also performed perfectly by him and action scenes were believable because of his acting.
Abigail Eames complements marvellously to the daughter aspect of the film. She adds the emotional aura and sweetness which make us empathetic to her. Her mischiefs were natural and the way she cries and hits Shivaay was a perfect portrayal of a beloved kid. Erika Kaar didn’t have much to do in the film apart from the initial romance which she performs honestly. Rest of the cast was pretty ordinary. Not much to blame them as it was the execution that went wrong. Sayyeshaa does a decent job and helps the story go forward. Girish Karnad is a heavy actor and he proves it here as well. For a smaller role, he leaves a good parental mark.
I wouldn’t take anything away from Aseem Bajaj’s cinematography. He captures some good visuals of Bulgarian mountains, the treks and the storm which give a beautiful as well as adventurous feel.
Shivaay completely disappoints. Excessive script and faulty direction from Ajay Devgn make the film a total blunder. Devgn delivers a good performance but I can’t say the same about his direction.