Friday, November 16, 2012

Aiyyaa - the tale of one fangirl.

Here's how I'd describe Aiyyaa: it's a Rani cupcake with a Rani cake as base, a Rani heart in the centre of that cake, tons of Rani frosting and some Rani sprinkles on that frosting. 

Bottom line, if you love Rani Mukerji, there's a very good chance you'll at the very least enjoy this film once. If you happen to be a part of that magical Venn diagram of Rani fans who are heterosexual females (or gay males, or just anybody with an appreciation of the male aesthetic) who love Southie films and especially good-looking Southie actors in those films? Well, you're in for a treat.

Is the plot lacklustre and kind of lacking of pay-off for most of the film? Yes, absolutely. Do the songs totally make up for it? Oh yes.

Did my id co-write this film while I was sleeping? It's a theory.

Meenakshi is a filmi-obsessed young woman with a family full of comic goofballs and a big imagination to escape to. She finds a job at a nearby college just to get out of the house, and in that job comes across Suriya (Prithviraj), a mysterious Tamil art student and painter, who she is wildly and instantly attracted to. However, her family has put in a matrimonial ad in the paper, listing a bunch of white lies to attract suitors. While Meenakshi spends her time daydreaming and following Suriya in his steps, her family is busily arranging her marriage to anybody who will accept her. 

What is truly great about this performance is that I believe at the hands of a lesser actress, Meenakshi would've been a pretty vapid character, what with her over-dramatic filmi fantasies, and her tendency to do silly things. In Rani's portrayal, however, she becomes alive as a human being, too, determined and endlessly likable, and utterly hilarious to boot. Her little expressions just killed me with joy every time.

The film is a little odd, to say the least, what with Meenakshi essentially stalking Suriya while being able to catch his scent from anywhere at all, but somehow it's so entertaining I simply don't mind.

Prithviraj doesn't get much to work with, but what he does as the solemn, mysterious Suriya is pretty wonderful all the same, and the songs that we get to see from Meenakshi's fantasies show a more goofy side of him, too. I might've been irked by the fact that the film is brimming with gratuitous objectification of males (not only of Prithviraj, but Meenakshi's co-worker is the world's biggest John Abraham fan and not afraid to show it), was that kind of thing not rather rare in films. When it comes down to it, it's a comedy about female desire, that doesn't laugh at the desire itself, but does present a rather exaggerated version of it - hence, funny.

What the film probably does require is for the viewer to be able to drool right along with Meenakshi whenever Suriya steps into frame. Hence the Venn diagram demographic that I mentioned earlier.

The portrayal of Tamil films, or what Meenakshi thinks Tamil films are, is rather loving in my view. She's a girl attracted to the colourful and the over-the-top, so I'm not surprised that's what she thinks of Tamil cinema as well. Dreamum Wakeupum to my eyes and ears catches precisely the type of music, dancing and colours that I love about Tamil films' song numbers (though the guys don't do half as much shirtless dancing, sorry to report). I also find it amusing that whereas a lot of Tamil films forget to give their heroines much characterization, in here it's Prithviraj who has a rather flat character, while Rani gets all the focus. Her Tamil learning is also adorable and utterly sincere. There is no laughing or mocking the language or the cinema aesthetic that goes with it: it's definitely a tribute. And if there's one trope I wish more films would use, it's people learning regional languages to impress the one their heart desires. (This I also loved in Ek Duuje Ke Liye.)

Aiyyaa could've used better direction and editing, but as a flawed, Rani-flavoured treat, it certainly worked its magic on me. With good songs and rather hilarious, over-the-top comedy, it's a film I'll probably rewatch a ton.


Beth Watkins said...

Wonderful! It really does sound like the fevered dreams of us female fans of Rani, movie tropes, and, er, certain male aesthetics, doesn't it? Can't wait to see it.

Rama said...

Hi, I found your blog when I tried to google blogs reviewing South Indian movies and trust me reading your posts have been a treat!!
I LOVE this movie. maybe because being a north Indian girl I'm madly in love with a Southie (he is a Telugu guy). In a way I relived myself on screen with Rani drooling over South Indian guy specially when she says- mujhe gore nahi kale log pasand hain!! OMG the film is fabulous and what else is same- I'm learning Telugu with online tutorials :)also want to watch Telugu movies that's how I stumbled here in search of good blogs reviewing them. I always find reviews by fans interesting and more balanced as compared to those by film critics.
Great review. plz keep posting.