Movie Review: Mardaani
Is the new Rani Mukerji-starrer worth a watch? City 1016's Lokesh Dharmani's verdict is out
Director: Pradeep Sarkaar
Starring: Rani Mukerji, Jisshu Sengupta, Tahir Bhasin
India’s top actress got married to its biggest film producer. What happened next was a film called Mardaani aka ‘This Hopefully Erases All Aiyya Memories’. Not sure how flattering it must have been for Rani Mukerji to know that her producer husband has decided to cast her in the titular role of this film. “Baby, you look so beautiful, so ladylike, I will cast you in a film called, er, Mardaani.”
But the production house is known to make pathbreaking cinema. Last time when they presented Rani Mukerji differently, Shahid Kapoor’s cool Casanova image came crashing down as he romanced an enthusiastic sardarji, the visuals of which still haunt us.
Jokes aside, Mardaani is a fair attempt to address an important issue of child trafficking. Gopi Puthran, the writer of the film, has chosen a very simplistic, linear style to tell the story of Shivani Shivaji Roy, the senior inspector of Mumbai Crime Branch, who nabs the trafficking racket. There are no unnecessary twists and turns, convoluted flashbacks or, worse, forced item numbers in the end. Simple, straight screenplay (Gosh, I love such intelligent-sounding jargon) tells the Tom and Jerry tale of the police officer and the mafia kingpin.
The only problem is the writing. The important issue of the film gets diluted in heavy duty dialoguebaazi. Shivani plans, threatens and even sets deadlines teary-eyed, “Main tujhe tees din mein pakdungi, yaad rakhna, tees din mein.” What’s meant to establish her as a menacing hero falls flat as it shifts focus from the grave social issue the film deals with.
Tahir Bhasin twists his face, lifts his eyebrows, laughs wickedly and does everything a typical Hindi film villain does. He delivers his dialogues well; alas, his young, cute face hardly looks threatening. As Shivani rightly puts it, he looks and sounds nothing short of a twelfth man of an Under-19 team. In the absence of an awe-inspiring, bone-chilling villain, Shivani’s battle against the mafia looks like a cakewalk.
Rani Mukerji is a talented actor. She knows her craft and is as cool and confident as always. There are moments where she is quote unquote acting, but there are moments of brilliance as well. My vote of confidence, however, goes to Mona-after-a-long-time-Ambegaonkar. She plays (Okay, don’t laugh) our young don’s doting mother. In her very short appearance in the film she shows what a brilliant actor she is and how much both small and big screens miss her.
Pradeep Sarkar’s biggest strength as a director is that he doesn’t have any signature style. Parineeta, Laaga Chunari Main Daag, Lafangey Parinde and now Mardaani, all his films deal with different genres and look so different as well.
Mardaani is a more commercial, less disturbing version of Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi. The film could be too simplistic for many, but doesn’t offend you or underestimate your IQ. Watch it once. It won’t hurt.