Confusing, sloppy, sluggish, and above all, disjointed – Shivaay is a glossy, lavishly mounted, expensive-looking Diwali cracker that fizzles out the moment it’s lit. You strap in for what you assume to be an exciting does of popcorn entertainment (as promised by the promos), only to be disappointed by the shabby writing and lethargic direction every step of the way. After a point, you just wish it to end ASAP. Sadly, at almost three hours, even time is not on our side with this film.
From the opening sequence itself, you get the impression that Ajay Devgn has no qualms in sacrificing style over plain and simple logic. A shirtless Shivaay lying on a snow-capped mountain gives you the impression that this dude has gotta have some sort of powers. Cut to a few scenes later, and the monkey-tricks he pulls off over a steep Himalayan cliff, sans a harness or protective climbing gear, and you’re convinced that Devgn’s connection with divinity goes beyond being Lord Shiva’s namesake.
So imagine your disappointment when you realize that Devgn can pull off all the shit he does simply because he shares a common name as the Hindu Deity, which somehow grants him certain superhuman abilities. Abilities like being immune to frostbite, riding out an avalanche in a tent, and miraculously bumping into foreigners who know your native language. What’s more, these abilities of Devgn’s are so strong that they also rub off on those around him, which would explain why Devgn’s 8-year old daughter, too, can scale snowy caps without gloves or tourists can dance in the middle of the Himalayan ranges wearing nothing more than a flimsy top and short-shorts. Devgn has gone all out to make everything look slick and hip in Shivaay, but sadly forgot to pay even a vestige of detail to basic physics and the limitations of a human body.
The other aspects of the film from the plotting to the narrative to the dialogues to the action and emotions are equally wayward. Not until an hour into the film are we introduced to the first action sequence – a respectably shot chase scene on a Bulgarian freeway – but by then we’ve been through such an onslaught of forced emotions and needless melodrama that you could hardly care less for however good the action may be. Alas, even here Ajay overdoes it, and just when you think that you’re witnessing the saving grace of the film, a farfetched situation that totally defies common sense is thrown in. (We’re willing to suspend disbelief to a point, but we draw the line when Ajay swings himself across from Bulgaria to Romania with nothing other than a harness.)
The story, as emphasized by the Director multiple times before release, is fairly straightforward – Ajay is an ace mountaineer and tour guide, who bumps into Erika Karr on one such mountain trek, falls in love with her, gets her pregnant, and proceeds to emotionally blackmails her to have the kid because that would be what he calls his ‘half-family’. He becomes a doting father to his half-family, and the father-daughter duo share several moments that are meant to evoke cute emotions, but fall flat due to how staged and unreal they look. Also, for an overprotective dad, he really didn’t care two pence about climbing mountain cliffs with his infant strapped to his back. (Wait a minute; she’s Shivaay’s daughter, of course she’s impervious to mother nature.)
Then one fine day, the daughter discovers that her mommy’s still alive and throws a fit to meet her. So Ajay, doting as ever, takes her to Bulgaria. Once there, he decides to meddle with child traffickers before seeking out long-lost mommy, and this is when all hell breaks loose. Simple and straightforward enough premise that could have worked wonders had Ajay not chosen to insert all that useless philosophical mumbo-jumbo and larger-than-life scenarios. Such scenarios even detract from Ajay’s performance, and barring a scene where he breaks down upon thinking that his daughter had died, you almost forget the huge reserves of talent the national Award winner possesses.
For their part, his three supporting ladies, Sayyeshaa Saigal, Erika Kaar, and the kid, Abigail Eames, are quite natural in their half-baked roles, and do their best to rise above the limitations of their character arcs. Sayyeshaa, in fact, comes across as a complete natural in her first film, and it’d be interesting to see her in a more challenging role. Unfortunately, veterans like Saurabh Shukla and Girish Karnad are reduced to mere caricatures, and subjected to mouth cringe-worthy dialogues. The addition of Vir Das seems like an afterthought, and could have easily be done without.
Technically the film scores big, with its cinematography, CGI, locations, and green-screen techniques leaving an impression. Even the music is a welcome relief, with most of the songs being hummable (Darkhaast in particular). The only technical department where the film falters heavily on is the editing. We know that the Director and editor need to always be on the same page, but this was one time, where the editor needed to have put his foot down, and snipe off major portions of Devgn’s over indulgence.
Shivaay was supposed to be Ajay Devgn’s dream project, which he has spent years developing. Well, he needed to have dreamed bigger, and better utilized all that time spent on planning and execution. The tagline of the movie states: ‘This Diwali there will be Destruction’. The film certainly makes good on its promise, though we’re willing to bet that it’s not in the way the makers had intended. In the end, you walk out of the theater with genuine concern over the welfare of your mental faculties.
Reviewed By:- Rahul