(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on 14 October, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/all-flesh-no-meat)
Cast: Rani Mukherjee, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Anita Date, Subodh Bhave and others
Director: Sachin Kundalkar
Rating: ½ star
The opening montage of Aiyyaa, which may be either a tribute to or parody of Bollywood kitsch, made me sink my head into my hands, and I wish I hadn’t raised it till the end. Because the film made me lose all motivation to watch Sachin Kundalkar’s other, National Award-winning work.
Maybe the film was based on the purportedly revolutionary premise that women can get horny too. Or that South Indian men can smell good and survive sans moustaches. Whatever its excuse for emerging from the cans is, Aiyyaa has no clue where to go once it has presented all its caricatures.
Meenakshi Deshpande (Rani Mukherjee) is the sort of annoying child-woman whose lust for life is only outdone by her lust for Surya (Prithviraj Sukumaran). She starts out wanting to be an actress – her role models are Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit and somewhat inexplicably Juhi Chawla – but ends up doing something rather more mundane.
The film bores us by introducing us to her loud family, flooded with quirks that are tiresome – unless you find gold teeth and sunglasses-sporting invalids hilarious. And then, it makes us meet her friend Maina (Anita Date), a buck-toothed Lady Gaga wannabe with an insatiable appetite for a skimpily-clad John Abraham.
Nearly as objectified as poor Abraham is Prithviraj, who’s a very good actor when he’s directed well. In this film, he’s underutilised, with hardly any lines, except a paragraph he delivers so sincerely that one wants to pat his shoulder and tell him, “It’s all right. Some films simply can’t be saved.”
Naturally, like all Bollywood movies, this one can’t tell the difference between Tamil and Malayalam, and has Meenakshi learning Tamil from Midnight Masala, to impress Surya. But then, given that the choreography is a succession of coital positions, juxtaposed with a flabby Rani’s quivering-jelly-belly-dance, it appears all the vocabulary she needs is “aaah!” After a point, her stalking and sniffing is downright creepy.
Crawling with stereotypes, and riddled with insipid dialogue, the film tries to tickle us with a profusion of lines in the vernacular. But the only part I found funny was unintentional – Rani going on about liking dark men, a rather absurd reference to Prithviraj, who’s a couple of shades fairer than she. The unnecessary twists in the tail made me wish the film were 40 minutes shorter.
The Verdict: Aiyyaa brings to mind those continental and Asian specialty restaurants that load their lasagne and noodles with masala, believing that’s what the Indian palate seeks.