It has been a while since we have seen Rani Mukerji on our screens so when it was announced that the actress was coming back on our screens, so the anticipation was immense. Mukerji is no stranger to taking a risk with her roles and her last characterisation as Meera in No One Killed Jessica۪ (2011) had the industry buzzing. The trailer for Aiyyaa۪ made it clear to see that she was taking another chance, with debut director Sachin Kundalkar. The short clips showed Mukerji in a never-seen-before avatar with heavy South Indian influence costumes and, if the song trailer were anything to go by, she has gone all out for the film with Aga Bai causing controversy. With English Vinglish۪, a female-centric film, that has got the industry talking, Aiyyaa۪ had everything going for it following a simple storyline with a big heart.
Meenakshi (Mukerji) is a free-spirited expressive girl who struggles to find the difference between reality and her fantasy dreamland where she is the star of the show. Her kooky family don۪t help with her over dramatic mother desperate to get her married off, her chain-smoker father who is obsessed with new inventions, her dog-loving younger brother and her blind Nan who rides around the house on her wheelchair. Meenakshi is desperate to escape her crazy family and uses her dreams of emulating Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla and Sridevi to get away from the madness of her daily life. When she gets a job as a librarian for an art college, she meets a mysterious art student Surya (Prithviraj Sukumaran) who she immediately falls for and starts obsessing over the fact that he could be the one for her. However, Surya۪s reputation is tainted with rumours of drug and alcohol abuse and despite the fact that he never speaks one word to her, she starts following him around to try and find out as much about him as possible. Meenakshi is desperate to get to know him and there starts a whole lot of plot twists as she works to try and determine what is reality and what is an extension of her dreams.
This film is based on a short film created by Kundalkar called ‘Gandh’, meaning odour, but it does not seem to quite translate onto the big screen. As Kundalkar is Maharashtrian himself, the film is heavily influenced by the culture and the characters are portrayed as gaudy as ever. However, there are parts of the film which simply do not make sense and that may be due to the fact that this was originally a short film. The film is spurned on by its larger-than-life characters who help add comedic value and keep the audience entertained. Kundalkar has placed a lot of importance to details like the stray dogs and trash cans which also play a role in the narrative.
Meenakshi۪s character is so well played by Mukerji that it is clear to see why the big screen loves her so much. Her expressions are brilliant and whether in a dream sequence playing Juhi Chawla or as Meenakshi, she captures their emotions so well. The dance sequences are absolutely fab with Aga Bai and Dreamum Wakeapum showing off the fact that you have to dance using your mind, body and soul. The actress brings the screen to life in every scene and she does so well in appealing to the audience. She is the real hero of the film. In stark contrast to her, Sukumaran plays the dark and moody character well and does hold his own when it comes to the romantic scenes. Another cast member worth mentioning is Mynaa played by Anita Date who is cringeworthy yet does have some laugh-out-loud moments in the film.
From the cinematography to the costumes, the film is very well thought by Kundalkar. It must be difficult to direct a film which essentially has two dimensions but he does convey this well. Mukerji has been given some great costumes which fit into each time period of each dream sequence well. The music for this film is as equally bizarre as the film with the soundtrack featuring the sounds of barking dogs and some utterly ridiculous lyrics from Amitabh Bhattacharya.
This film is one to watch if you want to switch your brain off for a couple of hours and enter a whole new world of complete mayhem. Mukerji is brilliant in this film and she is real energy of this entire screenplay.
BizAsia Showbiz Star Rating: 2/5