Reviews

Mardaani: Packs a punch

A scene from "Mardaani"  

We find its mention in history books to describe Jhansi Ki Rani but we seldom find ‘mardani’ being used in a positive sense in everyday life. Yash Raj Films takes a break from the escapist fare and puts together a gut wrenching tale on child trafficking that pushes the boundaries of a ‘heroine-oriented’ film in the process. Rooted in reality, director Pradeep Sarkar paints a disquieting picture of the changing crime scene in the city. Sarkar doesn’t portray the villain as the odd one out with a hideous laughter and obvious choices. In fact, he is the most ordinary character in the film. He could well be the computer savvy boy next door who knows the social etiquette and speaks English with an accent. It is this familiarity with the villain that sucks you in and keeps you anxious about his next move.

Taking him on is a woman police officer, again an emerging reality of urban India, a positive one. Etymologically, the title is rooted in mard but Shivani Roy (Rani Mukerjee) is no Chulbul Pandey or Singham or a wannabe male.



MARDAANI

Genre: Crime thriller
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Cast: Rani Mukerjee, Tahir Bhasin, Jisshu Sengupta, Priyanka Sharma
Bottomline: A taut thriller that makes you look within.


Shivani stretches herself within the framework of law and seldom tries to be larger than life in pursuit of a missing street girl who has almost become a part of her family. Sarkar tries to show that Shivani belongs to the space by making her spout four letter words and for not even once he uses her sexuality as a way to get through the obstacles. In a role reversal of sorts when the villain seeks revenge, he strikes Shivani’s doctor husband (Jisshu Sengupta). One wonders whether it will make the galleries uneasy but is a definite attempt to nudge the straitjacket approach without crying from the rooftops.

Apart from the characterisation what really works for the film is the taut screenplay. There are loopholes here and there but Sarkar keeps the canvas in limits and holds one’s interest in the cat and mouse game till the very end. It is redemption of sorts for him after painting an utterly regressive picture of Indian woman in “Laaga Chunri Main Daag”. Breaking away from his poetics, the language and some graphic content has won him an adult certificate but he ensures that nobody dare drool at the visuals. His advertising background once again comes handy in detailing.

It is a vehicle designed for Rani and one accessed the film with the trepidation of watching a loud performance. She takes time to get into the groove but once she does, she regales with a measured performance. At places, the discerning might find that she is getting into good old theatrics where every emotion and line is spelt out and it becomes all the more obvious in the presence of a support cast — led by Tahir Bhasin as the mastermind of the racket — which doesn’t have to carry the baggage of the past but then it is mainstream film trying to reach out to as many as it could. The fact that for the most part it makes you forget it is the biggest victory for Mardaani.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 1:06:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/mardaani-film-review/article6341938.ece

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