Movie Review: Mardaani

My word! Mardaani is a must watch. It’s an edge-of-the-seat thriller that catapults you right into the middle of the plot. The execution is near flawless and it takes you a while to realize that this is a film on child trafficking.

Pradeep Sarkar begins with the finesse he is known for and before you know it, you are sucked into the plot with Inspector Shivani Shivaji Rao (Rani Mukherjee) from crime branch, Mumbai, and her team. Sarkar takes you to the belly of the city as Shivani and her team move in to ferret out a ‘rat’ (a goon), using a rat! A perfect, gripping start which slowly and steadily veers towards its central plot, without as much as a jump in the narration.

Tahir Raj Bhasin deserves special mention; it is he who keeps the tempo alive with his evil act which is so menacing that it will leave you in awe of his performance. He knows how to get his lines alive! Body language, dialogue delivery and screen presence, this lad takes villainy to ‘top-notch’ level. The last time I saw a villain of this class was Vidyut Jamwal in Force. You hate him for his role, and love him for his performance. Take a bow Bhasin, you deserve the applause.

Rani Mukherjee gives a knock-out performance executed with sensitivity. She is this hard-nosed police officer, who inadvertently gets pulled into a child-trafficking racket, when one of the street girls she has rescued and rehabilitated goes missing from a shelter home. Her search for Pyari makes her dig deep; she doesn’t know whether she will get the child alive or not or in what state she is, but she is hell-bent at getting at the bottom of the heap.

A touching scene is one when Shivani treats the ‘rat’ she had ferreted out in the first scene to Mutton Biryani. “Ek biryani ke liye tu ne bahut bol diaya re,” Shivani smirks at him. He looks straight into her eyes and says, “Biryani ke liye nahi Madam, ladki ke liye bola. Biryani ke liye shukriya.”

The plot could have been predictable, and I was mighty glad that Sarkar did not take that easy route where the safety of the family of Shivani is concerned. However, the near flawless narration takes a beating when Shivani has Walt (Bhasin) in her captivity. The flashback was ‘absolutely unnecessary’. Another is the track between Rani, Jishu Sengupta and the child. As a viewer, you do not get the correct picture about their relationship. It’s just a home for Shivani to go to. Very convenient. Knowing Sarkar’s sensitivities, I am sure he would have seen through this flaw. These two are obvious blots on the narrative.

However, the finale will bring the house down and I am sure women of all ages and men as well will be cheering as Shivani Shivaji Roy shows Walt, who the real Mard is!

In March, Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi on the same subject did not meet with box-office success. That was a piece of brilliance, a must-watch film that will churn your insides. It needed to be watched.

Thankfully, Mardaani [even though on the same subject] will have a bigger success, and a focus on child trafficking, thanks to Rani Mukherjee and Pradeep Sarkar, and of course Tahir Raj Bhasin.

Rating: 4 / 5

Martin D’Souza

This first appeared on on August  22, 2014


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