The political climate of our country currently has this atmosphere where everyone is frustrated about the way rapes are happening frequently. Debates about the death sentence, immediate execution, etc is happening and the most popular influential art form in the country, cinema also took part in the debate. The anger in people was such that even mediocre creations in terms of writing quality got the benefit of “being relevant” and became successful movies. The main reason why I liked Gopi Puthran’s Mardaani 2 despite having a lot of deliberate compromises and spoon-feeding was that it primarily wanted itself to be considered as a thriller rather than being a lecture on how to respect women.
Shivani Shivaji Roy IPS is now given the charge of the Kota district in Rajasthan where the rape of a teenage girl has happened. Shivani was in anger and she openly humiliates the one who committed the crime during the first press conference. Her press conference makes our psycho rapist extremely uncomfortable and he decides to tease her by letting her know that he is following her. This cat and mouse game and how it all ends is the story of Mardaani 2.
I don’t know about how much impact these two movies have made in Indian men about respecting women, but one thing I am sure about is that both movies are great examples of top-notch casting in terms of picking the antagonist. Be it, Tahir Raj Bhasin, in the 2014 movie or the 25-year-old Vishal Jethwa in this new one, both films had terrific actors playing the villains which had a humongous impact on creating that intense feel. With the movie trying to intensify the tussle between the cop and crook by creating plot moments that show the belligerence of the psycho, the movie keeps you interested in how Shivani will track him down.
I said in the beginning that the movie’s primary aim is to be a thriller that has a psycho youngster who worships the patriarchal norms. The problem, perhaps a deliberate one from the makers, is the way they explain too much through dialogues. When the postmortem of the first victim happens and the doctor explains about wounds, Shivani is sort of explaining it to the doctor and the plan of the makers is to let the audience know that. There is a phase in the climax where our leading lady takes some time to go to a TV studio to participate in a debate about gender equality and similar stuff. When they make an established face like Rani Mukherji say all these relevant stuff (it will be a great hit in YouTube in near future) we sort of forgive the loudness and lack of subtlety understanding the impact it may have on some segment of the audience who aren’t a huge fan of nuanced storytelling. These moments definitely affect the movie, but it won’t make you cringe for any reason. Gopi Puthran’s writing in creating the antagonist character was really good. The visuals are fine and the cuts by Monish Baldawa add a good pace to the thriller. I would have been a happy viewer if they could have reused the Mardaani Anthem somewhere in the narrative (A personal favorite in the feisty voice of Sunidhi Chauhan).
Rani Mukherji is an experienced candidate and she handles the loud pitching of the movie nicely. When the investigation mode kicks in, she carries convincing energy in her body language and even though she doesn’t look like an acrobatically amazing police officer, she sort of becomes that fearless woman, especially in those climax portions. Vishal Jethwa as Sunny is the real find of this movie. The fourth-wall-breaking narrator of the story is extremely creepy. He shifts between various modes of that character effectively and effortlessly. And if this movie was released a month back I seriously think he would have got a place in Rajeev Masand’s Actor’s Round Table.
Despite its evident flaws (or the better word would be entertainer compromises), I would recommend Mardaani 2. It was a nicely constructed thriller that got diluted a little bit because of the decision to project it as a woman empowering subject. Vishal Jethwa’s terrific performance and the cat and mouse game will give you some satisfaction of watching a thriller movie.
Vishal Jethwa’s terrific performance and the cat and mouse game will give you some satisfaction of watching a thriller movie.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended