Direction: Sachin Kundalkar
Actors: Rani Mukerji, Nirmiti Sawant, Prithviraj
Aiyyaa is a bewilderingly odd film. In 2009, writer-director Sachin Kundalkar made a film called Gandha, which consisted of three short stories. Here he adapts one of these stories about a girl with a heightened sense of smell.
Meenakshi, played by Rani Mukerji, is a middle-class Maharashtrian girl who is led by her nose. She falls in love with a brooding, silent Tamilian because his smell intoxicates her. (Much later in the film, we are told why he smells the way he does). She starts to stalk him, learns Tamil and nurtures some steamy fantasies about him.
Only her eccentric family - her father smokes three cigarettes at once and her grandmother zips around on a motorised wheelchair - and a sweetly podgy prospective fiancé whose idea of romance is a Faroque Shaikh-Deepti Naval film - stand in her way. Kundalkar creates a purposefully exaggerated, absurd world. Meenakshi's dreams are fuelled by blockbusters from the 1980s.
She imagines she's Mohini from Tezaab and Rashmi from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Her brother is obsessed with dogs. One of her colleagues at work is a sort of bargain-basement Lady Gaga who drinks vodka out of a bottle shaped like a red monkey. Some of this is fun. Rani is delightful as a woman in heat.
She expertly manages to be both a simpleton and a seductress. She looks stunning and dances like a dervish. But the film can't match her performance. Kundalkar's story soon runs out of charm and wit. His lovely idea and original voice is stretched to the point where even Rani's mannerisms start to feel repetitive.
Prithviraj, who plays her object of desire, doesn't have much to do except be the attractive, angst-ridden artist. He has a nice presence but by the time this love story is resolved, you are way beyond caring - which is a real shame because parts of Aiyyaa have energy and passion. But it is drowned by the insistence on being wakda - crooked. Clearly wackiness can't carry a film.