Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 12, 2012

Smell this!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:40 pm

October 12, 2012

Cast: Rani Mukherjee, Prithviraj, Nirmiti Sawant, Anita Date

Director: Sachin Kundalkar

It’s love at first smell for college librarian Meenaxi Deshpande (Rani Mukherjee), who falls hook line and sinker for brooding artist Surya (South Indian star Prithviraj) the moment she first catches a whiff of him. Meenaxi, the protagonist of writer-director Sachin Kundalkar’s bizarrely fascinating Aiyyaa, is a middle-class Maharashtrian girl with a heightened sense of smell, and a tendency to slip into a dream-like fantasy world of Bollywood numbers to escape the claustrophobia of her eccentric family.

To be fair, no one’s entirely sane in Kundalkar’s world – not Meenaxi’s kooky parents, not her blind grandmother who zips around in a mechanical wheelchair, and especially not her colleague at the library, a buck-toothed Lady Gaga lookalike who dresses in S&M gear and pines for John Abraham. Meenaxi herself is prone to melodramatic outbursts and filmi nakhras, particularly when she’s being paraded about in front of prospective grooms.

Aiyyaa, with its bright visual palette, its strong female perspective, and its intentionally peculiar humor, is evocative of Almodovar’s quirky cinema, but the plot here is wafer thin, and while some elements work, it never all comes together as a satisfying whole. It certainly doesn’t help that the film unfolds over two hours and thirty minutes…an excruciatingly long running time for what’s essentially a slim story of a one-sided crush.

Yet, in a rare twist for a Bollywood film, it’s the heroine who does all the lusting here, cooking up saucy imaginary scenarios that invariably involve the hero flaunting his well-toned physique. Sportingly offering himself up to be objectified, Prithviraj bumps and grinds and heaves to the beats of at least two deliciously over-the-top song sequences.

Meenaxi, of course, is the film’s juiciest character…a woman conflicted between pursuing the man of her dreams, who barely notices her, and settling for a simple guy with simple tastes who has picked her to be his bride. Rani Mukherjee owns the part with a tremendous, uninhibited performance, switching superbly between the film’s exaggerated and understated moments.

In the end — the impressive camerawork and Amit Trivedi’s winning tunes aside — Aiyyaa is at best an original and promising experiment let down by its many indulgences. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Sachin Kundalkar’s Aiyyaa; an unusual film that could’ve been so much more.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Aiyyaa was bloody hilarious. Laughed my way through the film. 5 stars for entertainment!

    Comment by Aman — October 13, 2012 @ 12:04 am

  2. aiyya was real fun. specially the kooky nana-lady gaga sequence. laughed thruout. i’d go with a 4.

    Comment by ria — October 13, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  3. Brilliant comedy embedded in every frame …a mundane movie goer may not appreciate …

    Comment by Pradeep — October 13, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

  4. Sir I respect your reviews the most among Indian reviewers. Your reviews are the make or break for me when it comes to Bollywood movies. Yes we have had our difference of opinions. But none necessitating a backlash until now.

    Aiyya is a HORRIBLE movie. It is a mind-numbing hair-pulling torture to sit through it. The brain-jarring hamming, the whole olfactory premise, the wannabe quirky for the sake of quirky and flat senseless humour seriously makes you wonder if the writer and director were on acid when they made this crap. It is a WEED movie and a bad one at that. And really bad. Not the Jaani Dushman type “It is so bad that it is good” movie either.

    I expected a symphony of verbal abuse from you. And you give two and a half stars!!! Unpardonable my good sir. One of the worst movies I ever had to sit through.

    Comment by Faiz Ali — October 14, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  5. 2 nd a half stars 4 dis pathetic shithole….mr.masand dis hs 2 b ur wrst review ever. dis movie is easily da wrst i ve watchd in a long tym.it ws nothng less dan 2nd a half hrs of mental torture.rani mukherjee ws an actress i usd 2 respct a lot…but not nemore.wonder wat da maker of dis film ws smoking wen he made dis huuge pile of shit.

    Comment by rifaz — October 15, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  6. horrible movie………it ws dat mch bakwaas dat i ve to leave d movie in between….salute to those who liked ds movie……till date isse bakwaas movie aajtak na maine dekhi nd m sure na hi bani hogi….

    Comment by Akanksha — October 15, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

  7. Bakwas movie

    Comment by Atul — October 16, 2012 @ 9:36 am


    Comment by khush — October 17, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  9. Aiyaa is the worst movie I have seen in my life. It ranks with rgv’s sholay, mangal pandey as one of the worst ever movies! Prithviraj is wasted- I am a fan of his in Malayalam but he needs to stay away from such directors.

    Comment by Vivin — October 19, 2012 @ 12:20 am

  10. This movie could have been a lot better than what it has turned out to be. Some songs were unnecessary. The Papad one was really embarrassing. Not sure why the director wanted to stretch a simple story in all directions.

    Comment by Pixellicious Photos — October 23, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

  11. I only follow your reviews.. but 2 n half for Aiya?? HORRIBLE MOVIE!!
    Why was the movie even made??
    Doesnt deserve more than a half star!!

    Comment by Ria — October 27, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  12. i hated the movie completely. it was a torture to sit through. completely waste of time. by your standards of review it actually deserved one and a half stars max…. Rani’s started to undo all the good she’s done over the yrs!!!

    Comment by Nitin — November 2, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

  13. mr. masand…this time review of 2.5 to this film really ditched me,,,such a disastrous movie it was n such a disastrous review. pls dont cheat us like this . be fair man…

    Comment by rohan — November 3, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  14. The humour brought forth by Aiyya is far far away from even making you smile, rather injects you into a feeling of clautrophobia, as to how one could escape this wrath forced upon you to see such a terrible so called comedy.

    The only factor even bearable is Prithviraj, and that too only because he has got no dialogue except for one towards the end of the movie.

    Rani Mukherjee though has done a good job, does not compensate for the highly pauinful crap that the movie inflicts upon us.

    Even though the storyline could have been directed in a better manner, with more grace and passion, the director (I don’t know why !!) preferred to add the pieces of the not so comical disgusting characters and repellent enactments which were supposed to make us laugh but, did not even come close to wanting to sit through them.

    The songs and dance sequences do not add even a little appeal to the nauseating and lousy movie.

    Infact the comedy portrayed in the movie cannot even be catergorised as humour. I really wonder why an established actress like Rani Mukherjee would even agree to act in this movie.

    I give this movie only half a star (even though I so wish to give it zero Stars).

    Comment by Rudra Hari — November 15, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

  15. I watched Aiyaa with the understanding that everyone I had spoken to had bad opinions about it; however it pleasantly surprised me. If not anything Rani deserves stars for her acting – especially it is when she looked into the mirror and does a Bebo-Poo that I realized how multi-faceted in terms of talent she is. I do not know if someone caught the similarity though.. In a nutshell – watch to see how Rani takes to acting like fish to water.

    Comment by NK — December 16, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

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