Rani tries too hard to live out a wild dream in 'Aiyyaa'

Ever sniffed a way to a man’s heart? Well, Rani Mukerji manages to do the absurd in Sachin Kunalkar’s mad comedy ‘Aiyyaa’ and make it work… almost not.

Her two-and-a-half-hour-long journey as the desi “Alice in Wonderland” who sniffs out her perfect soul mate appears extremely exhaustive and tiresome.

While the premise may seem way over-the-top and unrealistic, it’s perfectly in sync with Kunalkar’s crazy world, where everyone is overtly outlandish.

Yes, ‘Aiyyaa’ isn’t regular Bollywood kitsch, but something more potent and maddening.  A little far-fetched and hard to digest, but one that might win a few claps for being so blatantly audacious.

We drift into Meenakshi’s wacky Bollywood dreams, where she prances around as a retro chic much like the divas of the 80s – Sridevi, Madhuri, Juhi – only to be woken up every morning to the frightening reality that surrounds her quirky Maharastrian family.

A mother who incessantly tries to find a groom for her, a father who spends his entire time fixing antique telephones while puffing four cigarettes at a time, a granny who flaunts golden dentures while riding in her swanky wheelchair, and a brother who devotes his everything to the homeless dogs in the neighbourhood.

Not just at home, even Meenakshi’s buck-toothed colleague Mynah is plain weird. She pops around in bizarre costumes and sways to Bollywood tunes in the most fun way, only to turn rather disturbing towards the end.

Although Meenakhi lives out her wild side in her dreams, she’s far more sober and simple in real, secretly nurturing a desire for the ordinary. Even devising plans to find a lover, who’d willingly elope with her and take along her family’s money stash.

It leads her to the fragrant yet gruffly, South Indian student Surya, who leaves her mesmerized.

Hypnotized by his scent, she spends most of her time stalking him and trying to work her way to his heart. The bloody eyed macho doesn’t give in, despite her undying obsession.

While on paper, the story might’ve appeared fun, its execution doesn’t quite match up. ‘Aiyyaa’ has a few hilarious moments, but they are far too few to keep us hooked.

One would expect Rani Mukherji to nail Meenakshi’s idiosyncrasy with finesse, but no, she reduces her into a caricature. It’s disappointing to watch her indulge in buffoonery, just for the laughs. Having handled comedy before, with impeccable finesse, this effort is a complete downer.

She tries, but a bit too hard.

While the peppy sound tracks, especially the one on the “South Indian masala”, have become a rage on the Bollywood charts, its flamboyant picturization appears an effort to step into Vidya Balan’s ‘Dirty Picture’ frame. Only, Vidya’s moves were far more refined and easy on the eye than Rani’s raunchy ones.

Even the erotic track that’s tuned to Rani’s belly moves appears to be an obvious copy of Katrina Kaif’s item numbers that were far more cultured.

Rani appears awkward and completely out of place.

Prithviraj’s Bollywood debut isn’t much to write home about. He’s left to do nothing more than flex his muscles at Rani’s whims and fancies. It’s only during the last 15 minutes, that he gets to do something more substantial, and he nails it. Unfortunately, that’s about all the script would allow him.

‘Aiyyaa’ is clearly not for the conventional, who would prefer not to adulterate their plate of poha with idli-dosa.

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