Cast: Rani Mukherji, Jisshu Sengupta, Tahir Bhasin, Sanjay Taneja
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
What it's about:
The story is about a cop in the crime branch of Mumbai. Shivani Rao (Rani Mukherji) sets out to find a girl (Pyaari) who disappears from a shelter. Her search for Pyaari leads her into the dark world of drugs and human trafficking, run by Karan (Tahir Bhasin) against whom she single-handedly launches a war to bring back her girl. The plot is uncannily similar to that of 'Taken', in which Liam Neeson plays former spy who sets out to find his daughter who is abducted in Paris, and he sets out to rescue his daughter from the ruthless gang.
The film starts with Shivani meeting her team to catch a criminal from his home. It starts slow but you soon find yourself getting involved, as the hunt for the missing girl begins. It is not an easy film to watch. It is brutal and it takes you into a world, you would rather pretend does not exist. Mardaani holds more than a few surprises. Sarkar stays away from the cliches like marital trouble in Shivani's life after her husband is targeted by the gang she is hunting down. Also, at some point you expect her niece who lives with her, to be targeted by the gang, but thankfully that doesn't happen. If you thought that the 5-feet-nothing Rani Mukherji would not be convincing as a tough cop, you will find you were mistaken. She gets into the skin of the character and delivers a powerhouse performance. Look out for her in the scene where she is talking to Karan, after the husband is publicly humilated -- Calm and menacing at the same time, with a tear rolling down one eye. The characters in this thriller-drama are superbly cast. Tahir Bhasin is menacing and ruthless as the head of the organization. Vakil and Tahir's mom are also effective.
While the drama in 'Taken' was captured in 90 minutes, 'Mardaani' runs into 120 minutes and the sentimental scenes slow down the film. The phone conversations between Shivani and Karan will remind you of similar conversations between the cop and the don in 'Ab Tak Chappan'. Rani's character needed to be more badass, you cannot hold back a character like that has to go in all guns blazing, which is what took the original to the No 1 position at the BO. Naturally, the Hollywood film was an inspiration, the director managed to get the plot right but the desi version lacks the urgency, and the relentlessness, that kept your eyes glued to the screen. The problem is that the film ends up falling somewhere in between a thriller nor a drama. The climax gets too filmi and reminded me of one nineties K C Bokadia film in which Rekha played the cop.
What to do:
If you haven't seen Taken, then by all means...