Ajay Devgn Ffilms, PEN Movies and NH Studioz’s Shivaay (UA) is the story of a father and his little daughter. It depicts the extent to which a parent can go, to protect his child.
Shivaay (Ajay Devgan) lives in the Himalayas and is a mountaineer. He loves mountain-climbing and has nobody to call his own in this world. While guiding a group of foreign trekkers, he befriends a foreigner, Olga (Erika Kaar), in the group. She hails from Bul- garia and has a family to look after in Bulgaria. Shivaay and Olga are thrown together by circumstances one day. Their togetherness leads to intimacy and the two develop a physical rela tionship. Olga gets pregnant with Shivaay’s love-child and al though she wants to abort the child and is in a hurry to return to Bulgaria, Shivaay pleads with her to deliver the child in India and give it to him before returning to her country.
Olga obliges Shivaay. She returns to Bulgaria soon after delivering their love-child, a baby girl, whom Shivaay then names Gaura (baby Abigail Eames). Gaura is unable to speak right from birth. Shivaay raises the daughter as a single parent. He tells Gaura that her mother is dead. All hell breaks loose when Gaura gets to know that her mother is alive and in Bulgaria. She forces Shivaay to take her to Bul garia to meet her mother.
Shivaay reaches Bulgaria with Gaura. But before the duo can trace Olga, Gaura is kidnapped. Shivaay only has 72 hours in the foreign land to save his little daughter as otherwise, she would either be pushed into the flesh trade or killed so that her organs could be sold. Abducting children and initiating them into prostitution or trading in their organs is common in Bulgaria.
The drama then shows the extent to which Shivaay goes to ensure that Gaura is rescued from the clutches of her abductors. With nobody he knows in Bulgaria, he seeks the help of Anu shka (Sayyeshaa) who works in the Indian embassy in Bulgaria. Anushka, in turn, seeks the assistance of her close friend, Wahab (Vir Das), who is a computer hacker. Meanwhile, Olga learns from the television news that the father of her child is in Bulgaria alongwith their child. The mother in her takes her to Shivaay and she, too, joins in the search operation. All along, Shivaay has to do whatever he does, very discreetly because the police of Bulgaria is baying for his blood. Anushka empathises with Shivaay and also finds herself being attracted to him and his devotion as a father.
Does Shivaay secure his daughter’s release before 72 hours? Or does he lose her to the abductors? Does Gaura end up in prostitution? Or is she killed and her organs sold? Does Shivaay return to India? If yes, with whom? If not, what does he do ultima- tely?
Sandeep Shrivastava has penned a story which had the germs of an emotional family drama. But his screenplay (script consultant: Robin Bhatt) is not half as good as it ought to have been. For one, the characteri sations are weak. In the Indian con text, Olga is a vamp because she re turns to Bulgaria soon after delivering the love-child and doesn’t even bother thereafter to find out how the child is faring. The audience’s sympathy, therefore, never goes to Olga, not even when she pines for her after she has been abducted. Shivaay’s character is also of the kind everyone may not give cent per cent marks to. He forces Olga to deliver their love-child but never marries her. Little Gaura makes a place for herself in the viewer’s heart, more so because she has been des erted by her mother and she is unable to speak. Yet, the sympathy for Gaura is never total because she is shown to be headstrong rather than sad or helpless due to her disability. Besides, her disability has not been used at all to evoke sentiments. Showing a key character with such a major disability and then, not using that disability to arouse emotions is definitely not a wise thing to do. In other words, Gaura’s condition would’ve been no different whatsoever even if she were able to speak.
Sandeep Shrivastava’s scenes are so lengthy that they test the audien ce’s patience. The chase and action sequences, in particular, are too long and, therefore, too boring. The worst part of the screenplay is that it is un able to evoke sympathy for any char acter in the drama. Save for the last scene, which could evoke tears from the eyes of the weak-hearted, the drama doesn’t tug at the heart-strings. In other words, although Shivaay de fies death to save his daughter, the viewers hardly experience edge-of-the-seat thrill.
The entire drama has a depressing feel about it. Also, Shivaay does so many stunts that the audience, after a point of time, feel that he is nothing short of a Superman which he is act ually not.
Sandeep Shrivastava’s dialogues are weak. In a human drama like this, the dialogues ought to have drawn tears from the viewers’ hearts.
Ajay Devgan acts ably but the weak screenplay does take away from his performance which the audiences are, therefore, unable to appreciate as much as they should have. Baby Abigail Eames plays Gaura with understanding but she is unable to win the audi ence’s unconditional love and sympathy, probably because she is so loud and headstrong. Erika Kaar (as Olga) acts fairly well but her anglicised Hindi is jarring to the ears and serves to take away the emotions from her dia logues. Sayyeshaa looks pretty as Anushka. Although her performance in her debut role is alright, hers is, at best, a supporting role which gives her limited scope only. Vir Das does well as computer hacker Wahab but again, he doesn’t have a single scene to stand out. Girish Karnad hardly gets any scope as Anushka’s disabled father. Saurabh Shukla is routine as Sharma. Markus Ertelt (as Changez and Sgt. Nikolai) doesn’t impress much. Vladimir Kolev also fails to have the desired impact as Colonel Borris. Casting foreigners as the main villains is an error as the audience is unable to identify with them. Sandeep Shri vastava (as the Indian interpreter), Amit Behl (as the army Colonel), Vikas Shrey (as the army Major), Pratik Khattar (as the army Captain), Aakash Dabade (as the Indian trek ker), Raynu Verma (as the lady doc tor), Aadil Sharma (as the doctor), Miroslav Pashov (as Ustinov), Swen Raschka (as Ivanovich), Goran Mit rowski and Robert Masser (both as pimps), and the others lend ordinary support.
Ajay Devgan’s direction is ordinary. For one, he has reserved every heroic action and deed for Shivaay to do so that the film looks like a one-man story. Secondly, his scenes are too long and boring. Thirdly, he fails to make the human drama one which can pierce the hearts of the viewers. Mithoon’s music (with one song by Jasleen Royal) is okay. The title track is definitely impactful but the other numbers are not very hummable. Lyrics (Saeed Quadri, Sandeep Shri vastava and Aditya Sharma) are not too easy on the lips. Howard Rose meyer’s choreography leaves some thing to be desired. Mithoon’s back ground music is too loud and intrusive, reducing rather than heightening the impact of the scenes. Aseem Bajaj’s camerawork is splendid. Visual effects and computer graphics are good at many places but below the mark sometimes. Stunts and action scenes (by Jai Singh Nijjar and Stefan Richter) are breathtaking but also un palatable sometimes. Too much vio lence will restrict the film’s appeal as the womenfolk will find it excessive. Sabu Cyril’s production designing and Apurwa Sondhi’s art direction are good. Dharmendra Sharma’s editing is loose.
On the whole, Shivaay is a slow and often boring human drama with very limited emotional appeal and little entertainment value. It may find favour with the masses and single-screen cinema audiences but its run in the multiplexes will not be smooth at all. Given the high price at which it has been acquired by the distributors, it will entail heavy losses to them.