Rating: 2.5 stars
While Rohit Shetty’s Singham Returns continues to roar at the box office in its second week, Pradeep Sarkar’s Mardaani – based on a similar genre – cop drama released this week. While Bajirao Singham fought against the corrupt political bigwigs of Maharashtra state, Mardaani aka Shivani Shivaji Roy, a crime branch officer takes upon the task of solving sex trafficking racket that operates in the country.
For quite sometime now, Bollywood has been churning box office hits, be it blockbuster Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick, Entertainment and Singham Returns. The release of Mardaani at this time (a solo release) hence shows a great deal of confidence on the makers’ part. And considering the response to the promos of the film it does seem to be a safe decision.
As the title suggest, Mardaani revolves around the female cop Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) an astute cop working in Mumbai’s crime branch unit. Deft at picking up hidden clues and fearless in confronting hardened criminals, Shivani stumbles upon a challenging case. The first fifteen minutes establishes Shivani’s skills as a cop as she chalks out a plan to arrest a criminal from a chawl and bashes up a party worker whose men destroy a cafeteria in the name of Valentine’s Day.
Shivani stays with her husband Dr. Bikram Roy (Bengali film actor Jisshu Sengupta) and her little niece Meera which she is very protective of. A teenage girl, Pyari, who is like a daughter to Shivanni, is kidnapped by the trafficking mafia and the mafia kingpin Walt (Tahir Bhasin) smuggled the girl outside Mumbai. Shivani warns Walt to let Pyari free, but he refuses to do so and instead tell her to back out and stop investigating the case.
To make it more filmy and entertaining (for the audience), Shivani challenges Walt that she will catch him in 30 days and what follows is a cat and mouse game between them. The way Shivani solves the case with her efficient squad and emerge victorious is quite intriguing and looks real.
Director Pradeep Sarkar tries his best to keep his narration true to life.
However, the issue of sex trafficking (prevalent in the society for years now) and the way he dealt with that through his film’s narrative and incidents are commendable. The second half moves swiftly with Shivani trying to get hold of Walt.
Performances add great strength to the movie. Though Rani’s last best role was that of a feisty and fiery television journalist in Rajkumar Gupta’s No One Killed Jessica, she has played her character Shivani with great aplomb. It’s a delight to see Rani back on screen and this performance should go a long way in re-establishing her lost position in Bollywood. Also Tahir, who plays Walt, shows promise. The use of cuss words and Rani sans makeup (in few scenes) is an attempt to make things look more real on screen.
The film does have the capability to stir you mildly and ponder over the serious issue of sex trafficking. It’s certainly an eye-opener for our existing law and order state of the country and suggests measures that need to be taken to eliminate the issue. However Sarkar, who directed a movie four years after Lafangey Parindey (2010) chose a simple plot and has done a decent job, especially not incorporating any songs for no reason. Nonetheless, Mardaani is a film you must not miss.