Ajay Devgn’s second film as a director, Shivaay, is a little more than three hours long, but there’s nothing in this film that justifies its runtime. Shivaay, in an ideal world, would have been a short film, running for not more than half an hour, because there’s not much of a story to tell here. But someone say that to Devgn, who thinks that he’s probably breaking new ground with this film and so nearly every scene stretches till a point where it tests the boundaries of rationale and audiences’ patience.
A mountaineer who has the ability to scale tall peaks and jump great distances (aided by passable CGI), Shivaay is essentially a god in the form of a man. And the film hammers that in point again and again. How? Shivaay, the film suggests, is no less than God Shiv because he smokes weed, has a tattoo of a trident and snake inked on his body and lives in the mountains. There’s a constant childish attempt to fling this pedestrian revenge drama into the realm of myth, but it feels false and disingenuous.
Shivaay, in fact, is some version of Singham set in the mountains: because, just like Rohit Shetty’s films, here, too, cars somersault in midair, the villain is a caricature and the hero sets everything wrong in the world, right. Maybe the film’s name, Shivaay ,does make sense, because there’s plenty of worshipping in this movie: that of the lead actor, Devgn. Even in the film’s initial portion – which is every bit as regressive and troubling as the rest of it – where Shivaay essentially forces his love interest, Olga, to become a mother against her wish, the film sympathises with the hero, as if he’s the one who’s been wronged. In scene after scene after scene we are told and shown – through dialogues, unreal stunts and routine action sequences – that Shivaay is great and god-like. And there’s more: shameless emotional manipulation, a banal and predictable story, a crucial revelation that makes no sense at all.
Moreover, it’s a pain to endure this film, because it barely shows any shred of conflict. Whenever Shivaay gets into trouble, he punches, kicks, jumps and screams his way out of it. That simple. And this cycle continues throughout the film. I mean, even video games have more complex worlds. At one point in the film, an Indian embassy official in Bulgaria sarcastically asks his subordinate, “Kaun hai woh? Batman, Spider-Man, Superman?” To which she replies, in all earnestness, of course, “Comics ke duniya ke baahar bahut kam hero milte hain (you find few heroes outside the world of comic books).” Sure. You wait for her to light an incense stick after that. She doesn’t. One more disappointment. Ugh.