Aiyaary: A Sublime Message to Stop Corruption

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Neeraj Pandey’s movie ‘Aiyaary’ is a riveting film but one needs to be aware of the incidents that the film covers which are the Adarash Housing and the Tatra scam respectively. The former is direct and the latter in passing but is the centre piece of action.  His earlier movie ‘Baby’ staring AkshayKumar was a spy thriller about a deep asset, and quite enjoyable.

The movie Aiyaary is about recent events say five to six years back or quite recent in origin.  My generation of officers became veterans earlier than that, thus have very little to add about these recent events from personal knowledge. Yet although the critics review were hardly encouraging one sat riveted to the chair watching the movie as it showed a facet of the Army which generally is swept under the carpet. The first and the last thing to know about Arms acquisition process, is that the Armed Forces only carry out user trials and send their recommendations.

The entire acquisition process, signing of deals and payment the process in its entirety is done by the Ministry of Defence and “have we ever heard of anyone in the faceless ministry ever questioned over arms deal, slow fast or scams’.  Thus at the macro level the movie sends a message which is very sublime, “when the Chief of Army staff creates a crack team to tackle corruption in defence deals at the first instance he has to dismantle the unit”? Why, “ Is the arms lobby that strong”? 

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To the uninitiated the movie has its usual short coming of details of army dress and decorum although it’s much better than earlier times when ribbons were incorrectly worn.  The movie also shows soldiers and their families and the pulls and pressures of military intelligence on domestic life. It is not about nationality and swearing by the nation but about cold blooded defence deals.  It has a lot of running to England or abroad after all defence deals are done abroad only. The nation needs to think why after seventy years India stills imports weapons, China and Israel also got independence in ‘47 and are net exporters. Why is “Made In India”, in the fourth year of the BJP government not a success?    The message which worries me is that a young officer goes rogue and gets away with it.

The movie in short is that an ex-soldier tries to bribe the Army Chief regarding passing a file for purchase of a vehicle. The Chief refuses saying the price is extremely high. Heated words are exchanged in a couple of meeting and the Chief is told that this is, “the procedure why rock the boat”?   All this is heard by the team which is doing surveillance and one of the young officers turns rogue. He copies the files and sets off to London.  The young officer says which worries me as a veteran “Why should I die for this corrupt system”, while his boss the colonel is from the old school or our school of thought and says nation first.

The movie has the usual J&K show and some other good scenes. A fascinating movie of a different facet of army life, but the Young Officer gets away questioning the corruption in arms acquisition. Neither he bends nor the system of arms acquisition or the question that the young officer raises are all thought provoking. Its food for thought for all those associated with defence deals. That is how I saw the movie? ManojBajpapee is the Colonel and SidharthMalhotra is the young Rogue Major, the movie does have songs but the usual running around the bushes is missing. A differently able,   “Fauji”  film which tackles a difficult topic well.

(The writer is an Indian Army veteran who has authored books,Gorkha: In Search Of Identity and Gorkha: Society and Politics; co-authored Nepal, India –Seven Decades of Trust and Friendship)

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