WORK OF ART: Aiyyaa


By Tony Tharakan

“Is there something you want to watch on Netflix?” I asked Mom on a humid Sunday afternoon.

“That one has Rani Mukerji,” she said, squinting at the TV as I surfed though the choices.

aiyyaa“Do you mean ‘Aiyyaa’? Ayyo! It got really bad reviews. Prithviraj’s Bollywood debut.”

“Prithviraj!”

And that was that. Mom has a soft spot for Prithviraj, the heart-throb Malayalee actor known for his strong, silent, stoic roles. Which is why we ended up watching Sachin Kundalkar’s “Aiyyaa” (2012).

In it, Rani Mukerji plays Meenakshi – a young woman who dreams in technicolour, wearing outsized sunglasses as she jives to the beats of Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla songs from the 1990s. So far so good. The trouble starts when Meenakshi finds work as a glorified assistant at an arts institute. And starts smelling things. Or rather, one thing.

Surya (Prithviraj), a wannabe Tamil artist, exudes a distinct male scent that transforms Meenakshi into the top dog at a bomb-sniffing canine unit. Remember that Axe ad where all the angels fall to earth drawn irresistibly to the fragrance? Or the drops of blood in the ocean that the great white shark of “Jaws” loved so much? Well, Meenakshi sniffs out Surya a mile away and follows him everywhere, even to the men’s loo.

Alas! Surya couldn’t care less. Meenakshi learns by rote Tamil sentences of the I-am-lost-in-your-dreamy-eyelashes variety and watches late-night Tamil movies that she reproduces faithfully into dream (or rather, nightmare) sequences where a bare-chested loin-clad Surya lunges and gyrates to “thighsum thunderum downum underum”.

Yes, “Aiyyaa” is a work of art that Dhinchak Pooja would be proud of emulating.
As the movie ended, Mom turned to me.

“I think the critics were right about this one,” she said. “And Prithviraj should stick to Malayalam cinema.”

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