Early on in the film one of the central characters in the film mouths the dialogue “In our job we cannot afford confusion”. This line could very well have been spoken by writer-director Neeraj Pandey as viewed throughout the first half of the 160 minute film. The lengthy opening disclaimer too is understandable – after all Pandey is dealing with blatant corruption in the army.
Col. Abhay Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) heads a covert operation unit which includes Major Jai Bakshi (Sidharth Malhotra). The bulk of the film deals with the latter falling out with the former over information accessed from tapping phones of those in the corridors of power. Bakshi turns rogue and Singh gets 36 hours to ’rectify’ the situation.
Pandey, who’s made thrillers such as ‘Special 26’ and ‘Baby’, couldn’t possibly resist bringing in the two veterans of his ‘A Wednesday’ – Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. The former, as common man Baburao Shastri, almost single-handedly exposes a major scam of the armed forces-politician nexus (Aashraya Co-op Hsg. Society echoing uncanny resemblance to the 2010 Adarsh Society scam – with even the word Colaba cropping up half a dozen times).
Suited-booted businessmen – an ex-armyman turned arms-dealer (Adil Hussain), ex-Lt Gen Gurinder Singh turned wheeler-dealer and an honest Army Chief (Vikram Gokhale) round off the supporting cast. Manoj Bajpayee’s histrionics saves the day for this film, whose length, to accommodate an unnecessary romantic angle – Jai’s love interest Sonia (Rakul Preet Singh) – and some dispensable sub-plots makes Aiyaary (meaning mastery of deception and disguises) certainly not one of Neeraj Pandey’s better ones.