‘Mardaani 2’ movie review: Misogynistic mayhem

‘Mardaani 2’: The gender debate doesn’t rise above the familiar and the stereotypical  

(This review contains spoilers)

Somewhere at the very beginning of Mardaani 2, cop Shivani Shivaji Roy compares and contrasts police with the media: “Police media nahin ki bina saboot ke faisla suna de (Police is not like the media to pronounce judgement without any evidence), and irony (unwittingly) dies in the light of the recent vigilante justice incident . It’s back to the line of duty: a woman cop fighting crimes against women. Shivani Shivaji Roy returns in the Mardaani sequel, this time tracking down a serial rapist and killer. Gopi Puthran takes over as the director, the scene of crime shifts to the student hub of Kota, and we have a new actor — Vishal Jethwa — playing villain.


Mukherji continues to play the cop in a solid, no-frills, straightforward way, though the few tears threatening to roll down her eyes get held back a tad too consciously. And for a cop as smart as her, it is hard to digest the fact that she can’t “see” the villain who is hiding in plain sight.

Mardaani 2
  • Director: Gopi Puthran
  • Starring: Rani Mukherji, Vishal Jethwa
  • Storyline: Cop Shivani Shivaji Roy returns to the scene of crime in the sequel to Mardaani, this time tracking down a serial rapist and killer
  • Run time: 103 minutes

The film tries to address the larger gender question — the perceived social “threat” of women taking over men, “becoming” men — and aligns it with caste and politics. There is one brief, rousing moment where Roy talks about how barabari (equality) is too distant a dream, there is not even a modicum of hissedari (sharing and participation) in the man-woman dynamics. And, of course, there are statistics thrown at the audience in the end credits. However, the gender debate doesn’t rise above the familiar and the stereotypical; barely any compelling layers get added. The larger design remains more of an unusually short and crisp cat-and-mouse thriller. One which feels not so fully realised, rushes to finish in a hurry and leaves one dissatisfied.

Just as in the previous outing, the criminal is shown lurking among us — a deviant posing as a regular — though Jethwa is too deliberately mannered and not half as effective in evoking menace as Tahir Bhasin was in the previous outing. Rape is portrayed as psychological aberration, an inheritance of perversion than a “regular” patriarchal power play that it largely is. The device of criminal talking to the audience creates its own mixed messaging: is he making the audience his friend and confidante, or implicating the society at large in the rape culture?

The script takes expected turns, especially the way the climax gets laid out. Blood and gore and mob justice solution of the former gets toned down, if not entirely done away with. Be it fear, loathing or anger, somehow it’s not able to tap into or channel any of our collective feelings. Or is it that we have grown immune to things, specially when reality is getting far more horrific and complicated by the day than its portrayal in cinema?

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 11:43:32 AM |

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