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Madaari Review: Irrfan, Jimmy are wasted in this vigilante drama


Madaari begins with Irrfan Khan’s voiceover saying, “Baaz chuhe pe jhapta, use utha le gaya. Kahaani sacchi lagti hai magar acchi nahi lagti. Baaz pe palatwaar hua, kahaani sacchi nahi lagti magar acchi lagti hai.” It almost sounds like a promise of a gripping social thriller.

Starring critically acclaimed actors Irrfan and Jimmy Shergill, this is a vigilante story aimed at highlighting our corrupt system. Yet with all the ingredients for an intriguing thriller, Madaari is the perfect example of how to spoil the perfect recipe, director Nishikant Kamat its master chef.

Madaari, that hit theatres on Friday, is the story of a common man Nirmal Kumar (Irrfan) who loses his son in a tragedy caused by corruption, and decides to seek justice by kidnapping the son of the country’s home minister (Tushar Dalvi). Jimmy plays the celebrated cop who heads the search operation.

The film starts well with the scene being set up for a massive hunt for the kidnapped son. Irrfan’s preparations, especially the technical set-up to ensure he isn’t tracked down, is reminiscent of Neeraj Pandey’s national award-winning film A Wednesday (2008). In fact, there are similarities throughout the film to A Wednesday, but that not the problem. The pace at which writer Ritesh Shah tells the story is more troublesome; its too slow.

What’s worse is Shailja Kejriwal, who wrote the film’s story, offers a potentially good thriller. But stretched for over two hours, Madaari is at least an hour too long.

And the reason the movie goes on and on is because the makers touch upon way too many issues – price hike, the police system, corrupt politicians, farmer suicides, infrastructure, etc. What we’re left with is an unfocused narrative that mars its impact.

Irrfan and Jimmy salvage some of the film.

While Irrfan conveys the angst of losing a child so well, Jimmy revisits his cop act with nuance. But the script burdens them with clichés, constricting their acting and failing them in the process.

But that isn’t to say the film is a complete disappointment. It has its moments.

Rajeev Gupta, for one, brings some comic relief. Gupta has earlier entertained Bollywood fans with his raw portrayal of Paan Singh Tomar’s corrupt cop and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster corrupt politician.

There are sparks of brilliance: The song Massom Sa, sung by Sukhwinder Singh and composed by Sunny Inder-Bawra, adds to the pathos when played in the background.

Irrfan, of course, also shines in bits. As a single parent avenging his son’s death, he really moves the audience. If only the makers didn’t get carried away by ambition, and let Irrfan explore more of his character, Madaari could’ve been a different movie.

There are also some hard-hitting dialogues that address social concerns – how social media’s perception changes in minutes, the way Indians function as a public, how politicians function, and the ruling party-opposition party fights are just part of façade.

At one point, Jimmy even says, “People don’t expect rulers to have commoners’ fate,” – a tell-tale sign of what the makers wanted to convey.

Ultimately though, Madaari crumbles under its own lofty ideals and ambition. The slow pace makes the fall even more painful and enduring. And that it had two brilliant actors in Irrfan and Jimmy, who were grossly under-used, only adds to injury.