Film review: Shivaay leaves many questions unanswered
Directed by Ajay Devgn
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Erica Kaar, Abigail Ealmes, Sayesha, Vir Das
Ajay Devgn — the Bollywood actor with the permanently hangdog expression — directs and stars in Shivaay, a torturously long action drama, in which he plays a violent, sexist mountaineer who makes bad decisions.
Shivaay, for that’s his name, lives at the foot of the Himalayas, and his trekking expeditions are legendary. This loose cannon can conquer the steepest mountains without any restraining gear or harness. Anti-gravity fluid must flow fast and strong through his veins.
Shivaay falls in love with Olga, a Bulgarian woman (Erica Kaar), on one of his treks. They embark on an affair, then maturely agree to end things amicably when she has to return to Bulgaria.
But, alas, she falls pregnant and doesn’t want the baby. So, resorting to some mansplaining, Shivaay forces Olga to have the child, despite her repeatedly insisting she has a family to provide for back home and cannot take on more responsibility.
‘No!’ bellows Shivaay dramatically, because he never considers what a woman has to say. “Give me the child, then go live your life”.
Flash-forward nine years, and the mountaineer has an 8-year-old daughter, called Gaura (Abigail Ealmes), by his side. She was born mute, but, inexplicably, hasn’t been taught sign language.
Thanks to an earthquake that throws their home into disarray, thus revealing a telling letter, Shivaay is forced to tell Gaura the truth about her mother, and decides to take her to Bulgaria, despite strict instructions from Olga to never make contact.
What follows are scenes lifted straight out of Liam Neeson’s Taken. Sad-faced Shivaay finds himself mixed up in a human-trafficking network after his daughter is kidnapped. So he smashes the crime ring — with the help of an Indian embassy staffer who has daddy issues (Sayesha), and annoying hacker (Vir Das). Along the way, he decimates pretty much all of Bulgaria.
The carnage is depicted in slow-mo, while the audience squirms with boredom and asks these questions as they desperately wait for the final credits to roll — Will Gaura have to live her life without learning sign language? Will Bulgaria’s economy recover from all that destruction? Can Olga forgive herself for having fallen for this loony? And will Devgn ever be able to look his wife — the accomplished actress Kajol — in the face after this doozy of a film?
No, no, no and no. Enough said.
Shivaay is in cinemas now
Updated: October 29, 2016 04:00 AM