The Hindi film industry’s idea of an action film has changed with time, and director Pradeep Sarkar’s latest venture Mardaani is an example of this.
Now, the filmmakers are concentrating more on realistic stunt scenes, but is this enough to bring mainstream Bollywood at par with foreign action films? Why am I drawing this comparison? Simply because we are seeking inspiration from Hollywood, that too in an obvious way. Liam Neeson-starrer Taken (2008) had a similar premise, and Sarkar has adapted the concept to suit the ‘masala’ seekers.
There are spoilers ahead, so we suggest you to come back to this article after watching the film. In case you’re proceeding, thanks.
In a way, it’s a revenge film featuring daredevil Mumbai Crime Branch inspector Shivani Sivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) and Walt (Tahir Bhasin), a young-dynamic-organised criminal, as two fighting entities.
They both are influential in their respective fields and know the tricks of the trade, which eventually turns the story into a cat-and-mouse game. Only the cat was too predictable.
As the trailer suggested, Shivani leaves her den and arrives in Delhi to grab Walt by his neck after the abduction of a shelter home girl. Rest of the film is an extension of the idea that even a heroine can play Chulbul Pandey.
Laga Chunri Mein Daag and Lafangey Parindey have shown Pradeep Sarkar as a storyteller who carefully selects the canvas, but loses the essence of the theme as the film progresses towards the culmination point.
The same happens in Mardaani where too much emphasis on high-voltage drama dilutes the conflict. The linear structure of the screenplay doesn’t help either.
Shivani is gutsy, capable of doing stunts, and enjoys full support from her subordinates, but how she waits till the end to raise the excitement meter is unconvincing.
The constraints of popular Bollywood film are clearly visible throughout the film, and it doesn’t serve any purpose because enhancing drama part restricts the hard hitting subject to unfold properly. You don’t wait for the dangerous villain to act vehemently before grabbing him, especially when you’ve all the evidences against him.
A bit of overlooking on part of the director also hampers the flow of the story. A goon has been fired upon in the police custody, but none of the cops looks towards the sniper as if they expected it. Ironically, it happens twice.
The climax also can’t boast of clean execution of the script. The absence of any will to grab the gun on part of baddie Walt is conspicuous.
The research part of the film is satisfactory and the writer Gopi Puthran uses some plot points quite judiciously, especially the second twist of the film, but where Gopi fumbles is the characterisation of the supporting cast. Be it Dr Bikram Roy (Jisshu Sengupta) or Pyaari (Priyanka Sharma), they all are over-dramatic.
However, the writer should be praised for inserting some police humour. There is a scene where undercover cops are ready to raid, and a feisty woman unknowingly sits in their vehicle. Unfortunately, this was one of the rare light moments in the film.
The politician-gangster nexus is inevitable in such stories, and Mardaani is no exception, but they don’t seem menacing or really venomous. You see the point? The drama fails to grip the audience in an anticipated way. A sprinkle of religion has also been used, which of course steals away the seriousness of the issue.
Tahir Bhasin impresses with his cool demonour, and he gives out the glimpses of his latent potential in some scenes. He can be groomed into a good talent, if handled with care.
Mardaani is Rani Mukerji’s show, she gets undivided attention. Nearly all the scenes feature her, and she doesn’t disappoint. The conflict line could have been demarcated with more finesse and her character could have emerged as one solid Mardaani.
There is just one song in the film, which plays in the background, and it works in favour of the film. The story is paced well and editing covers up for some average acting and technical glitches. In fact, it’s the editor who manages to make Mardaani a thriller. The camera captures the essence of Delhi streets, but fails to give a closer look of the landscapes in Rajasthan.
Mardaani’s philosophy and message are conveyed to some extent. It may be liked due to its women oriented theme, but I don’t think it would give any impetus to the process of women empowerment. Watch it if you have been a Rani fan, but don’t look for any depth in the story.