The trailer of this Republic Day release "Aiyaary" is out and it tries too hard to be intriguing.
Director Neeraj Pandey's success has grown by leaps and bounds since "Wednesday", that taut gripping political thriller in which a Common Man played by the uncommonly gifted Naseeruddin Shah, holds a city to ransom for wrongs done.
At the end of the slickly-cut but way too Bourne-ish trailer of "Aiyaary" I saw Naseeruddin Shah warn, "Don't ever finger a poor man." Finger-touch dialogue, that.
Naseer sounded like the character in "Wednesday", a decade older, feeling all the burden of demonetisation and GST.
The trouble with the cinema of Neeraj Pandey is it never grew older. The tongue-in-cheek vivacity of his anti-establishment rant in "Wednesday" and "Special Chabbis" is now a red-hot concern on national security where Siddharth Malhotra and that favourite of the director Manoj Bajpai fight it out in a counter-espionage tale that seems to suggest a lot more mystery and depth than it actually delivers.
There is always that tendency to dig into areas of governance where the common man has no access. In that sense Neeraj Pandey's cinema is a celluloid RTI. A red flag to waive aside all the tricolour waving. The director just can't stop preening over his mastery over the language of unclassified political manoeuvrings. But Pedro Almodavor, he is not.
With success, Neeraj Pandey's canvas has broadened. And with each broadening his sense of storytelling seems to shrink into a sullen uncertainty. The Dhoni biopic sprawled out like a mansion in the wilderness which has seen better days. The world of "Aiyaary" seems more controlled and contained.
The centrifugal dramatic force emanates from the two main characters played by Siddharth Malhotra, for whom this is an attempt to wear the "serious actor" badge, and Manoj Bajpai who tries several disguises in the trailer. We hope he doesn't do dozens more disguises in the full-length film. That would be as distracting as a certain part of actor Willem Dafoe's anatomy which stuck out so much in "The Anti Christ" that they had to use a body double.
The dramatic conflict between the two army officers takes them across several parts of the world and, hopefully, through at least a labyrinth of emotional evolution. But the effort to contour the mystery is strained in the trailer.
Even more mystifying is the almost absolute absence of female characters in the trailer. Though South star Rakul Preet Singh plays the female lead there is not even a glimpse of her. Yup, this is a boys' adventure film. A grown up self consciously adult version of the Hardy Boys series. You know when things get hard for the Hardy Boys?
Toh shuroo karein "Aiyaary" ki tayaary?
Trailer rating: **