Friday 30 September 2016


Desp­ite my grave problems with the film, I could not help rooting for Rani.

Starring: Rani Mukherji, Tahir Bhasin, Anil George, Jisshu Sengupta
Directed by Pradeep Sarkar
Rating: ***

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.

Sharmila Tagore Sange Dorjee Thondok
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
The Reviews
Amitabh Bachchan holds the movie together with his piercing gaze and formidable presence
MAGAZINE September 21, 2016
The Reviews
Mildly funny, pseudo-feminist, and not in the least offensive
MAGAZINE September 15, 2016
The Reviews
Could easily have transgressed into poverty porn territory, with a side of White Saviour Complex tossed in...
MAGAZINE September 15, 2016
Web Extra
A very welcome, refreshing and poignant tale of Mumbai.
MAGAZINE September 12, 2016
The Reviews
A spoof—if not a laugh riot—of everything from modern marriages to the police-politician nexus.
MAGAZINE September 08, 2016

More than a decade after India first started the procurement process, it has finally inked an €8bn agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault. The original deal was to buy 126 Rafales to replace the accident-prone Russian MiG-21s. Ultimately, the government offered to buy only 36 ready-to-fly planes.

POLL STARTED ON: Sep 26, 2016
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 31st Olympic Games from August 5 to 21. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Here’s a quiz on some random Olympic facts and related trivia.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Aug 11, 2016