Shivaay
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Shivaay Review: Ajay Devgn climbs mountains, film doesn't

By Rohit Vats, Hindustan Times

A bare-chested trekker is lying on top of a mountain. The white snow in the background makes us notice his prominent tattoos and still warm pipe. Panoramic aerial shots give us a tour of the beautiful place, and a question rears its head: Why didn’t they make it in 3D?

Some college students join Shivaay (Ajay Devgn) for a mountaineering mission. Olga (Erika Kaar), a Bulgarian studying at the Delhi University, is one of them. There is a spontaneous spark between Olga and Shivaay. They fall in love before the sun sets. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to hold Olga back in India.

But, our heroes know how to preserve love for centuries. And thus after years, Shivaay decides to visit Bulgaria. Gaura (Abigail Eames), an eight-year-old girl, is accompanying him. Olga hadn’t left only Shivaay wandering in the mountains.

Obvious things take till eternity to happen. The characters sledgehammer us with useless information.

The new country turns out to be more mysterious than what the father-daughter duo expected. And they might not be able to untangle the web of lies and deceit coming their way.

Aseem Bajaj’s camera guides us through tunnels and snow-covered hills. With a little help from the CGI team, he successfully creates an environment where the vast canvas makes the audience anxious. Devgn escalates the excitement with a well-choreographed opening action sequence that sees him doing bungee-jumping, gliding and parachuting. The rising crescendo in the background makes him appear flamboyant, tough, skilled and intimidating.

It is also the moment when Devgn gets carried away. He doesn’t want to let go the initial momentum and keeps stretching the sequence. As a result, the film takes time in arriving to the actual plot.

You can occasionally be reminded of Vin Diesel’s xXx, Vertical Limit or The Dark Knight Rises, but proceedings mostly remain under Devgn’s control except when he tries to make space for emotional unfolding.

After beating around the bush for many minutes, Devgn finally gathers the courage to come out of the mountains. He has already set a tone for the narrative by now. The film moves to a new location, but it needs to maintain the same attitude.

Shivaay is primarily conceived as an action film. Shiva — the destroyer is dominant than Shiva — the protector. References through names and symbols make it obvious. Plus, Devgn is really good in action sequences.

If the opening sequence brings out his athleticism, the fist-fighting in Bulgaria presents him as a vulnerable yet competitive guy.

You can occasionally be reminded of Vin Diesel’s xXx, Vertical Limit or The Dark Knight Rises, but proceedings mostly remain under Devgn’s control except when he tries to make space for emotional unfolding.

Actually, it’s such an action-dominated film that the efforts to put emotional breathers in between seem futile. After all, we all know where we are going to bump into.

Obvious things take till eternity to happen. The characters sledgehammer us with useless information. Actors like Girish Karnad and Saurabh Shukla mouth dialogues that have no or least connection with the central theme. Accommodating everyone pushes the length of the film to 173 minutes.

What begins as a thrilling adventure turns into a self-indulgent experiment. From shaky camera to mafia to corrupt policemen, everything boils down to Devgn’s uncontrollable urge to raze each standing thing to the ground.

When you think it’s about to touch a logical end, another twist comes into sight. It keeps dragging in search of an end.

The ingredients are there, but loose ends restrict Shivaay from becoming a smooth ride.

Devgn’s stunts are a treat to watch, but that’s about it. Shivaay treks trough high altitudes, but the film keeps waiting for him to return to the valley with a string attached to his legs.