AJAY'S NEVER-ENDING SAGA IS HIGH ON ACTION BUT LACKS SOUL
Shivaay (Ajay Devgn), a fearless Himalayan mountaineer covered in Lord Shiva tattoos, heads to Bulgaria to fulfill his nine-year-old daughter Gaura’s (Abigail Eames) wish of seeing her mother Olga (Erika Kaar), who abandoned them years ago. But their plan goes for a toss when the little girl gets kidnapped in the foreign land. Rescuing her from the masked child-traffickers becomes his only reason for survival.
On heart-pounding beats of Bolo Har Har, Shivaay has a spectacular opening scene that sees Ajay descending dangerous Himalayan cliffs like a pro. The stunning cinematography captures the mountains like no Hindi film has managed so far. You feel you are in for an adrenaline pumping ride and expect a nerve-racking survival drama to unfold in the hills, on the lines of ‘Cliffhanger’ or ‘Vertical Limit’. However, the film takes a cliched spin and ends up looking like a slow-mo version of Liam Neeson’s ‘Taken’ franchise.
The abduction of his daughter turns our chillum-smoking cool trekker into an angry killer, who vows to bust the flesh trade racket in Bulgaria. Soon high-octane, gravity and death-defying action sequences take centre stage, which are on par with the Hollywood films. An extended car-chase sequence in particular is outstanding.
However, the film has its issues, biggest being its run-time (3 hours) and thus, poor editing. Ajay, who is perhaps in every frame of the film doesn’t know where to stop as a director. Scenes linger on forever, nullifying their own significance. His wish to incessantly harp on the ‘father-daughter drama’ makes his action thriller dreary, an odd mishmash of multiple genres that leaves you exhausted.
Boasting of great production values, we wish Ajay had invested in a better story as well. You don’t feel for the characters or their ordeal. His quick romance with Hindi-speaking Olga, which blossoms in a dim-lit falling tent is preposterous.
Sayyeshaa Saigal makes a decent Hindi debut. Girish Karnad, who plays her father, ends up being the unintentional comic relief, owing to his inappropriate, corny dialogues.
Overall, Ajay is unstoppable in Shivaay but you wish he wasn’t! Laced with visual excellence, you applaud his film’s larger than life canvas but despite the efforts, his second directorial venture fails to engage you emotionally.