Starring: Rani Mukherji, Tahir Bhasin, Anil George, Jisshu Sengupta
Directed by Pradeep Sarkar
Mardaani didn’t come with any great hopes riding on it. A director with a disaster of a last film called Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, shoddy promos and an indecorous title that seemed to suggest at a heroine trying to ‘become’ a hero/man to prove herself than just be confident in her own skin.
The film then comes as a pleasant surprise in the way it breaks away from, while still remaining squarely within, the conventions of mainstream Hindi cinema. Yes, the background score grates, the Hanuman chalisa irritates, the slo-mo walks towards the camera make you cringe and yes, the climax is intensely gory and problematic in the mob justice solution it offers. But most of the film itself, thankfully, stays on course.
On the surface it may seem that Rani, as vigilante cop Shivani Shivaji Roy, on a mission to crack a child and sex trafficking racket, has taken over from where last week’s Singham Returns left. But Sarkar’s references are more the foreign TV cop dramas and films like Taken and the narrative is tight and pacey. The casual, no-nonsense and hardnosed way Rani plays the cop is far removed from Ajay Devgan’s allegedly crowd-pleasing, puffed up turn. For her it’s a job and she does it with an even-handed ease. The fact that she is a ‘woman’ is not screamed aloud. She is as good with chases, fights and fisticuffs as she is in a duel of words with her deadly young adversary while telling him that her ‘khana’ is going ‘thanda’. Yes, she may serve thalipeeth to the family for breakfast with equal ease, but never lapses into YRF Films’ customary ‘song-n-dance in a chiffon sari’ routine. The gender role reversal is interesting nonetheless, with the man in her life, Jisshu Sengupta, fading into the backdrop much like wallflower women in macho-male films. Rani goes full throttle without bothering to hide her freckles under makeup, nor disguising her petite frame. She delivers a emotional wallop in the scene of her family’s humiliation. The cat and mouse game between her and the villain, who she calls “Under 19 ki team ka 12th man”, makes the film extremely engaging. The English-speaking, Breaking Bad-watching, Ipad-carrying, hoodie-wearing, Hindu college graduate, boy-next-door—well, he is a suave, hip, new face of evil in Hindi cinema. Tahir Bhasin, who plays the role with relish, leaves the strongest impression. Anil George is his slithery, reptilian, chameleon like sidekick, as concerned about the onions in his biriyani as he is about the next delivery of drugs. Through them the film shows how crime can fester in unobtrusive family spaces, that our seemingly normal neighbourhoods can be covert crime dens. Indeed, many a trafficking racket has emerged from these ordinary colonies. Despite my grave problems with the film, I could not help rooting for Rani. If you can whistle for Bajirao Singhams and Chulbul Pandeys, you may as well make way for Shivani Shivaji Roy.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Saw the film virtually first day, first show based on one exceptional review, the others have tended to be less generous than this one. Some scenes made me close my eyes, they ought not to have been there at all, but the finale I thought was apposite. No miscarriage of justice here, because those young women had been brutalised by the man they crushed underfoot. As for Rani, would travel to Pakistan to see her films, she seems to have lost that exceptional huskiness in her voice, did a fine job in the film.
IT WAS A VERY GOOD FILM AND BEAUTIFUL RANI WAS IN TOP FORM
If one goes to a cinema theatre to watch the movie after reading review of a particular film,that means he goes with a prejudiced mind and expect the theme ,emotion,action ,songs and music etc. as he had expected, after making up his mind based on review reading. But Alas nothing such happens. Reviews are usually written as are desired by certain ones,may be positive or may be even negetive. So, does it not better to go to movie just to enjoy,to make mood fresh and then after 2-3 hous when the film ends , make your own judgement if it did make you happy. Did you feel the money that you spent on it`s watching ,prove worth?. Rest is useless .
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