Rani Mukerji Saves Kota in Mardaaani 2: But Does it Give the Wrong Signals?
Subhash K Jha wonders if the representation of the town, known for is coaching centres and educational institutes, might prove to be dangerous at some levels
The small but bustling town of Kota in Rajasthan is where students descend in droves for coaching in engineering examinations. You can call it the city of middleclass dreams. It is also a nightmare for parents who send their children away in the hope of a secure future, and children who are unable to cope with the pressures of competitive examinations. In this sensitive area of educational challenges which serves as a brutal haven for thousands of young aspirants, Yash Raj films have decided to airdrop a serial rapist, no less, brutally violating and murdering young girls in Mardaani 2.
Rani Mukherji in 'Mardaani 2'
I think this kind of creative vandalism is dangerous on many levels. It isn’t healthy for an environment of educational challenges to be reminded what dangers lurk in the shadows of their aspirations. Parents of students studying in Kota have spoken personally to me expressing their dread and disgust at what they see as a gimmick in the guise of a socially conscientious cinema.
Having said this, the trailer of Mardaani 2 does have a certain chilling urgency to it, a sense of imminent danger, as Inspector Shivani Roy takes on a faceless serial rapist in Kota. In the first film Rani’s khaki avatar took on a vicious human trafficker played by an actor who was way too charming to be repugnant. Here in Part 2 it is a cackling heckling rapist who challenges the cop-hero(ine) about how she will find another girl’s body floating in a drain the next morning, and what can she do about it?
Rani doing a Dirty Harry in Kota? Is this the kind of cinema we need? That’s a difficult question to answer. While the banner (Yash Raj) and the lead actress’ commitment to creating cinema that makes us think and question societal values is irrefutable, this whole issue-based genre that merchandises catastrophes seems like a Roland Emmerich film about the Taj Mahal being bombed by the Taliban.