I love Ajay Devgn. Unabashedly love him. In Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, I am totally Team Ajay. One of my Desi friends expressed amazement that I like Ajay and was looking forward to Shivaay, “What? He’s so ugly!” She’s still my friend even though I now wonder both about her eyesight and her mental acuity. He has superb screen presence and can actually act, but he just has an unmistakable swagger as an action star. The Shivaay trailer just blew me away. We’ve never seen this level of stunt work and action cinematography in Indian cinema. I had heard mixed things about Shivaay once it came out, but there was no way I was going to miss this film on the big screen.
With Shivaay, it’s almost like Ajay the director is trying to combine an action thriller like Taken with the emotion and family heart of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The action sequences are fantastic, and really thrilling. They measure up to the quality of Hollywood films, and the Bulgarian scenery is just gorgeous.
I absolutely adored Ajay’s relationship with his young mute daughter. She was a terrific child actress. Did she have to be mute? — maybe that was a way to get around the plot point that she doesn’t look like her Indian father and the actress wouldn’t be able to speak good enough Hindi. As Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood points out, this is really a special father/daughter relationship on screen. It has nothing to do with a daughter leaving home for marriage, and we have an adoring single father.
Why did this film not touch me in the heart the same way Bajrangi Bhaijaan did? It has more serious peril with human trafficking by the Russian mafia, and a cute kid and all, I can’t quite put my finger on why it didn’t work for me. Shivaay was just that much darker and had few moments of lightness and fun. Ajay also didn’t have anyone supporting him of the quality of Nawaz or Kareena.
There was maybe too much time spent in this romance plot with Polish actress Erika Kaar, who does not have the acting chops of Kareena Kapoor Khan. The villains are also mostly interchangeable Eastern European bad guys. The big reveal of the ultimate bad guy mastermind was pretty predictable, and the final battle was pretty damn awesome. The title track by Badshah is great, but the rest of the music tracks also don’t have level of Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s soundtrack.
Ajay is a solid action director. I wish the script had been a bit better, and aside from the delightful child actress, the supporting players of better caliber to match Ajay’s intensity. I would still recommend catching Shivaay in the theater, because the action scenes look amazing on the big screen. Ajay’s showing the way — you can play a dad, and still have swagger and cool.
And wield wicked weapons like those rock climbing hooks!
Three and a half stars out of five for the great action.
I’m so glad you saw this movie in the theater! Those action sequences were just phenomonal on the big screen, but I don’t know if I would have even said it was worth watching on the small screen. You really needed to see all the details and catch every moment in a way you only can in a theater.
Hi! This is my first comment here, but I’ve been reading your reviews for a while and enjoy them. Can you give me an idea of the level and kind of violence in this film? Like you, I was blown away by the trailer, but several comments about how violent the film is have me in a quandary. To give you an idea, I didn’t mind the violence in Bahubali (because of the strong story-telling, I think), but had a hard time with what was shown in Wanted (Hindi). I can tolerate some of the violence in Telugu masala films, but again only if it has a strong story to go with it. From your reviews I think you have a much higher level of tolerance than I do (I wouldn’t even go near some of the horror type of films you mention), so if you can give me an insight about this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
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Moimeme, thank you so much for commenting! I’ve seen you regularly comment on Margaret’s site, so I’m flattered that you’ve been reading my posts.
I’ve never seen the Hindi Wanted, so I’m not sure what was super violent about that. You’re probably right that I have a higher tolerance for violence in movies, although I can’t watch torture porn movies like the Saw series. Blech!
Here’s what I can tell you about Shivaay. I would compare Shivaay to the level of violence in a Bourne film. Lots of similar fight scenes with close in camera work of fist fights, but more concentration on cool car chase scenes. If someone dies from a gun shot, there is little blood. It would be PG-13 if it was a Hollywood film. Yes, Ajay does use his Mountain climbing hooks to battle some, but there’s no spraying blood as you would see in a Southern movie machete fight.
My Tamil neighbor Seth liked Shivaay and it wasn’t too violent for him. In contrast, he borrowed my DVD of Dabangg this weekend and told me that was too violent. I hope that helps. I would definitely recommend trying to see Shivaay on the big screen if you decide to watch it, because the action sequences just look so amazing — they are Hollywood level great.
Thank you so much for your detailed reply! I’ve never seen any of the Bourne films, but from your description of the action and the fact that you think it would be equivalent to PG-13, I’d guess that it’s more like the earlier Bond films. That, plus your reassurance that there is no spraying blood makes me feel much more comfortable about seeing it. (I take it then, that there is also no explicit impaling of people, the thing I hate the most about South Indian films).
BTW, I first discovered you on Bollywhat. And I actually went to Margaret’s blog because of your recommendation of it at Bollywhat. 🙂 Since initially you were posting your full reviews there, I didn’t come around to checking your blog till later, and I was very pleased to discover that you write about other films besides Indian ones, and more of the independent films, too, which I am interested in, so I am very happy to be here. 🙂 So there’s no need why you need to feel “flattered” by my comment. I try not to ramble on in my comments, which is sometimes hard, but with your encouragement, you might see a few more comments from me, on things which I’ve noted in the past. 🙂
Thanks again for your help.