Thursday, 28 August 2014

Mardaani movie review: Wallpaper, Story, Trailer

Mardaani movie review: Wallpaper, Story, Trailer

Cast: Rani Mukerji, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jisshu Sengupta 

Direction: Pradeep Sarkar 

Rating: ***

‘Mardaani’ had a lot of potential – it could have been a gripping police drama. Alas, the payoff doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. While the plot trajectory is immensely engaging, here again is a climax not only hugely disappointing, but also extremely problematic. 

Just as in ‘Singham Returns’, there is a tough, honest cop with an insight into the criminal mind. Inspector Shivani Roy (Rani Mukherjee) is calm and precise in approach and meticulous in execution, as is evident from her water-tight plan to bust a heinous crime racket. Drugs and sex trafficking being her primary concern.

What deeply disturbs, however, is the protagonist’s utter lack of faith in the Indian judicial system. A film that glorifies and even espouses vigilante justice by a senior police officer can only be interpreted with dark tones in India, a country of over a billion of which a fair chunk suffers crime, inequality and injustice on a daily basis.

Even if the movie is not really a call to arms to the general public, it lends itself readily to that construct.

That apart, Rani’s portrayal of the hard-nosed cop is perfect. She rarely flinches – tough talking with a generous dose of desi profanity seems to come naturally to her.  

It is to Pradeep Sarkar’s tight storytelling that the rest of the cast owes its sheen.

Tahir Raj Bhasin excels as the young antihero.  An understated performance devoid of histrionics takes nothing away from the menace and antipathy Bhasin conveys as the criminal mastermind.  

It is to Sarkar’s credit again that the narrative is never jolted by a romantic number or any such needless distraction. The one song blends with the storytelling and the humour is spontaneous. The scenes involving the young girls have been shot with a lot of sensitivity, and they come across as deeply disturbing, without even once devolving into a cheap titillating show.

And despite all this the film still leaves a strange dissatisfaction inside. The reason is clear. A strong narrative needs a fitting climax. If all the building up resolves only in a lazily plotted conclusion – a simplistic, violent end to things - then all that came before appears to have been a waste of time.  

Watch ‘Mardaani’ not because it is perfectly conceived – it is not, few films ever are – but because it is truly a brave attempt.
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