Star cast: Rani Mukerji, Tahir Raj Bhasin
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
What’s Good: Rani Mukerji and the no-nonsense narrative which comes packed with solid punches, perfect thrills and apt dialogues.
What’s Bad: The predictability of the story line and the lack of inventiveness in the film. The melodrama of the climax could have been avoided.
Loo break: Thankfully not many.
Watch or Not?: Mardaani is a movie that despite an unimaginative plot and predictable narrative engrosses you in its fabric. Rani Mukerji is pitch perfect in the role of a super-cop that is rightly hued, far from the floss and swagger of Chulbul Pandey and Singham. She is real, gritty and every bit brilliant. Though the film’s climax loses itself in melodrama, this is a film that has its heart in the right place and tells a pertinent story at a time when it must be heard.
Shivani Shivaji Roy is a cop in the Mumbai Crime Branch, who lives with her husband and niece. A street urchin Pyaari, whom she had saved from station, is now a part of her family and friend of her niece. All hell breaks loose when Pyaari goes missing. Initially it seems like a case of kidnapping but Shivani soon realizes it is an organized racket functioning, dealing with trafficking of young girls and drugs.
The nexus is not in the police radar and functions rather discreetly. But Shivani is hell bent on getting Pyaari out and destroy the people behind it. Does she succeed in getting to Pyaari or the pimp king (Tahir Bhasin) gets the better out of her is what Mardaani holds for you.
Mardaani Review: Script Analysis
Gopi Puthran has written a very predictable story which loses steam in its second half. The usual stuff is all something you’ll expect and nothing shocks the hell out of you. That is probably the film’s only hitch. The melodrama, the convoluted climax is all a staple affair, something I was expecting. And yet, it is one of those few times, when despite a weak plot a film is winsome. There is something delightful in seeing a pimp getting kicked in the nuts by a bunch of women he had sold into trafficking. As a woman, I do relish the clap traps that were incorporated in this film.
The story gives you a lot of reasons to celebrate commercial cinema. Though I won’t agree that it is a well written intelligent film, but it is a film that devotes itself exclusively to a subject without falling prey to diversions. Stretching commercial cinema beyond the contours of Singham and Dabangg Pandey, Rani retains the realism of the story delivering the mesmeric action which has the look and feel of believability in it.
However, the loopy writing at many places kills the earnestness of the film. Sending cut limbs of the kidnapped person is something I was hoping the writers won’t resort to. Attacking a cop’s husband to put her in a weaker position is again a flawed way of putting things across. Since we don’t live in the 70s and 80s, there is a certain degree of progression expected from the writing, which hasn’t grown much.
Even when the climax satisfies, I can’t call it a wholesome one. It is half baked attempt at making a clever point. The last shot Rani washing her face, exclaiming how every woman who lives in a country like India where men gaze at them with hawk like lust, must bring out the Mardaani in her, is worth a million bucks. But there is something critical missing from the residual feeling that the story must leave by. Blame it on the film’s writing, that cannot leave aside the pedigree of Bollywood thinking to create a movie that can rise above the usual, plain, unimaginative canvas that lacks basic creativity.
Mardaani Review: Star Performances
Rani Mukerji with no make up, stern face maintains her strong demeanor. The actress is non dramatic on purpose and that did the trick for me. She is far from the pomp and show of masala cop films and that subtlety blows your mind. I am ecstatic that the lady has returned in a role that does justice to her caliber.
Tahir Bhasin is a revelation and quite interestingly lives up to Rani’s stature. The chase between him and Rani is built brilliantly mostly because of his conviction in rendering such brilliance to his character. His diction and twang both blend in well, drawing one’s attention even further.
Mardaani Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
Pradeep Sarkar hits hard with every film. Even the ordinary Laaga Chunari Mein Daag had a lot of memorable moments. He and Rani obviously did a fascinating job this time. Shot brilliantly without any superfluous airs, the heart wrenching scenes mainly are the ones where he throws light on the atrocities of those trafficked through Zurawski shots. He creates the distress with care, sensitivity and tastefully. Luckily Sarkar keeps the track focused but I had better expectations from the climax. The build up for the chase was fascinating and I for one was expecting it to be done with aplomb. Alas, the climax unfolds as preachy, melodramatic and devised especially to unleash Rani’s physical prowess over men. While it is great to applaud at it, the thrill of it was absolutely missing. The tight screenplay doesn’t rip at any part and the editing keeps the film right in all measures mostly.
Mardaani Review: The Last Word
I am quite proud to say that the roaring lady rules the show in Mardaani and with aplomb. Despite the film not unraveling with as much wit and creativity as was expected of it, the movie is an attempt to alter the fare of commercial cinema, giving it a more real tinge. It might not be a brilliant film but it is a film that is better than good and must govern your attention for the theme it raises. It is a powerful film that seldom goes wrong and leaves by a message that must be heard. I am going with a generous 3.5/5 and a big shout out to Team Mardaani.
Mardaani releases on 22nd August, 2014.
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