Reliance Entertainment, Motion Picture Capital, Plan C Studios, PEN Studios and Friday Filmworks’ Aiyaary (UA) is the story about the armed forces of India and the corruption that has set in in the ranks of the forces.
Principled army chief Pratap Malik (Vikram Gokhale) has clandestinely set up a covert army unit under Colonel Abhay Singh (Manoj Bajpayee), allocating funds to it although he has no authorisation to do the same. Major Jai Bakshi (Sidharth Malhotra) is a part of the covert team and he is a promising young army officer who is very inspired by the principled Colonel and his philosophies of life.
It emerges that Colonel Abhay Singh and Major Jai Bakshi have disappeared. Army officer K. Srinivas (Rajesh Tailang) is interrogating Maya (Pooja Chopra), another member of the covert team of Colonel Abhay Singh, about the whereabouts of the two.
As the drama unfolds, it turns out that Jai has stolen sensitive data from the covert unit’s data centre and he also has the recorded conversation between the army chief and Lieutenant General (retd.) Gurinder Singh (Kumud Mishra). Jai has learnt the art of decoding data from hacker Sonia (Rakul Preet Singh) whom he has ultimately fallen in love with.
In the taped conversation, Gurinder can be heard offering army chief Pratap Malik bribe money to clear the arms and ammunition deal offer received from an arms supplier in Czech Republic. But the upright Malik won’t do it as the cost of the deal is four times what it should be. Gurinder Singh, before concluding the conversation, has threatened to expose the covert unit and the army chief if he (army chief) does not close the arms deal. Armed with so much incriminating evidence, Jai has fled the country.
Gurinder Singh even starts the process of exposing the army chief by colluding with a television journalist (Nivedita Bhattacharya). Meanwhile, the army chief cancels the covert operations to ensure his own and Abhay Singh and his team’s safety. But the army chief gives Abhay Singh unofficial orders to ensure that the corrupt army people are wiped out in order to protect the nation.
Abhay Singh is shocked that his blue-eyed boy, Jai, could turn rogue. Abhay Singh follows Jai to London where the latter has gone to settle down. He ensures that the crores of rupees, promised to him by Gurinder Singh for not exposing him and Mukesh Kapoor (Adil Hussain) whom he (Gurinder Singh) works for, are transferred to his account. Jai wants to meet arms supplier Mukesh Kapoor in London. It soon becomes clear that Mukesh Kapoor is an ex-army officer of India. Mukesh Kapoor has quit the Indian army to make pots of money by supplying arms. He has retired army officers on his pay roll so that he can use their knowhow to make the best offers to the Army.
Colonel Abhay Singh, on the same flight as Jai, reaches London to kill Jai for turning rogue. He meets a trusted person (Anupam Kher) in London, who helps Abhay in tracking down Jai. Abhay Singh meets Mukesh Kapoor and asks him to eliminate Jai who would be meeting him, threatening to otherwise expose him alongwith Gurinder Singh if he (Mukesh Kapoor) does not oblige.
Meanwhile, the black sheep in the army, including Gurinder Singh, are wondering where Abhay Singh has disappeared after meeting the army chief. They also don’t know where Jai Bakshi is.
Does Mukesh Kapoor eliminate Jai? Or does Abhay Singh kill Jai? Is Mukesh Kapoor exposed? Does Gurinder Singh expose the army chief or does Abhay Singh prove one-up on him and expose him before that? Is Jai Bakshi working against the interest of India? Why does Jai Bakshi ask his boss, Abhay Singh, to meet Baburao (Naseeruddin Shah) who is holed up in a small hotel in India? Who is Baburao and what explosive information does he have? Whom will this information expose?
Neeraj Pandey’s story is too confusing and convoluted to be easily comprehended by the average person. It has so many sub-plots that it becomes difficult for the audience to keep track of the same. Besides, while talking of the corruption in the armed forces right through the drama, it focuses on such a small (comparatively speaking) aspect in the climax that it appears like a case of much ado about nothing. In an age when scams of thousands and lakhs of crores of rupees make headline news, the scam unearthed by Baburao in the climax looks like a tiny joke. Furthermore, the entire track of Jai Bakshi being disillusioned by the corrupt system does not seem justified because in the taped conversation between army chief Pratap Malik and Lieutenant General (retd.) Gurinder Singh, it is amply evident that the army chief is an honest and principled person. Rather than being inspired by Malik, Jai Bakshi keeps harping on the point of not willing to work for the corrupt system. So long as the man on the top is clean, how can Jai Bakshi take the plea that he is working for a corrupt system, and expect the viewers to buy that?
Neeraj Pandey’s screenplay is so confusing that the audience wonders what he wants to convey. The details of the sub-plots revealed by the screenplay are often unnecessary and serve to confuse the audience more than anything else. The tracks of Chiru and some others are unnecessary or, even if essential, are so long that they irritate more than adding anything worthwhile to the drama. There are flashbacks within flashbacks, only adding to the confusion. For example, there is a scene in which Sonia goes into flashback mode. In that flashback, Jai is shown explaining his stand to her and while doing so, he goes into a further flashback. Scenes like these are so irritating that the frustrated audience wants to throw up its hands in despair and shout out for help. Consequently, the viewers sometimes lose track and at some other times, they get irritated with the surfeit of information. The result is that the drama becomes too unwieldy for the audience to handle. In fact, the viewers get the feeling that Neeraj Pandey had so much to say that along the way, he himself lost track of what he must’ve first set out to say! Neeraj Pandey seems to have overlooked the point that like brevity is the soul of wit, it is also the soul of a box-office hit. The climax, of course, is a major letdown after the huge build-up and it pales into insignificance when viewed in the context of the drama leading up to the climax.
The screenplay lacks the elements of emotions and patriotism. Although the army chief and Colonel Abhay Singh are shown to be confirmed nationalists, nothing in the entire drama evokes patriotic feelings in the viewers. Even the title (meaning the art of disguising and deceiving) seems quite unsuitable.
Neeraj Pandey’s dialogues are good at places but definitely not half as punch-packed and patriotic as they ought to have been.
Sidharth Malhotra is sincere as Major Jai Bakshi. He delivers an earnest performance but his character does not get the audience’s sympathy because of the reason given above. Sidharth looks very handsome. Manoj Bajpayee shines in the role of Colonel Abhay Singh. He gets into the skin of the character and comes up with an absolutely stunning show of talent. Here, it must be added that the youth may not approve of the fact that Manoj Bajpayee often seems to have a meatier role than Sidharth Malhotra. Rakul Preet Singh does well as Sonia but she tends to overact in the last few reels. Adil Hussain plays arms dealer Mukesh Kapoor with conviction and authority. Kumud Mishra gives an interesting colour to the character of Lieutenant General (retd.) Gurinder Singh. Naseeruddin Shah is very natural as Baburao and makes a fine impact. But in the scheme of things, the viewers get the feeling that an artiste of his calibre has been quite wasted even though he turns out to be like the hero of the climax. Anupam Kher makes his presence felt. Pooja Chopra has her moments as Maya. Vikram Gokhale makes his mark as army chief Pratap Malik. Rajesh Tailang lends lovely support as army officer K. Srinivas. Juhi Babbar Soni leaves a mark as Abhay Singh’s wife. Nivedita Bhattacharya is effective as the television journalist. Lushin Dubey (as Jai’s mother), Ajith Bhurre, Gaurav Sharma, Maan Sarohi, Mir Sarwar, Deepak Chand, Zafar, Kacho, Sidharth Bhardwaj, Rahul and Janvi Kapoor are adequate.
Neeraj Pandey’s direction, like his script, leaves something to be desired. The accomplished director does not seem to be in form this time as his narration is found lacking in a lot of aspects. Rochak Kohli’s music is appealing as the ‘Lai dooba’ song is of a popular variety. Manoj Muntashir’s lyrics are good. Feroz Khan’s choreography is functional and goes well with the mood of the film. Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background music is excellent and greatly adds to the drama. Sudheer Palsane’s cinematography deserves distinction marks. Abbas Ali Moghul’s action and stunt scenes are good. Production designing (by Narendra Rahurikar) is of a fine standard. Praveen Kathikuloth’s editing could’ve been more effective but, of course, the major blame for lack of effectiveness lies on the weak script.
On the whole, Aiyaary is a flop show which will face rejection at the box-office because it is too long and boring and lacks entertainment value and the patriotic flavour.