Saturday, October 29, 2016


Anything But Divine

Ajay Devgn, who directs and stars in Shivaay, wants to portray his character as an indestructible, semi-divine force.  But for an action movie, he wastes a lot of time in setting up a tedious romance.

Shivaay lives in a Himalayan village (which looks suspiciously European) and works as a mountain guide. During an avalanche, he and a Bulgarian woman, Olga (Erika Kaar) take a tumble down the snowy slopes, and end up falling in love. She gets pregnant, but doesn’t want the baby; he emotionally blackmails her into giving birth and leaving the kid behind, which she does, without a backward glance. Eight years later, Gaura (Abigail Eames) discovers that her mother is alive, and throws a right royal tantrum; to save the trouble of teaching one more white actress to speak Hindi, Gaura is conveniently mute.

 In this age of Google, Shivaay and Gaura land up in Bulgaria, only to find that Olga’s last known address is no longer valid. For some strange reason they go to the Indian Embassy to help trace a Bulgarian citizen! Shivaay helps the cops nab a paedophile in his hotel, and pays for his troubles by having his daughter kidnapped. There is a flourishing human and organ trafficking business in the country, to which the local authorities turn a blind eye.

 The rest of the seemingly interminable film is about Shivaay hunting for Gaura, with the help of an embassy employee, Anushka (Sayesha Saigal). She helps him because she has a dad (Girish Karnad) who adores her, and she admires the father in Shivaay!  

The audience knows that he is going to succeed, but Devgn stretches every chase and action scene till they are no longer thrilling— the action scenes are shot beautifully, and all kudos to the stunt team—but all that work is rendered futile due to the overkill.

Devgn is a dependable actor, but he has discovered a gem in young Abigail Eames; when she is being cute, she is annoying, but the scenes of her trauma after the kidnap are stunning.  The weakest point of the film is the lack of a villain as a counterfoil for Shivaay’s power. One of them lies around lazily in a mansion, listening to opera!


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