MARDAANI can also aptly be called MARD(R)AANI as it is Rani Mukerji who carries the whole movie on her shoulders by brilliantly portraying the exploits of the amazing Shivani Shivaji Roy, a Mumbai crime branch senior inspector who is tough, honest, intelligent and brave. Stripped off the gloss that director Sarkar has been guilty of since he started his career, Mardaani has a suitably dark opening, retains its grimness throughout, and keeps developments on the right side of credibility for as long as possible. Set in Mumbai and Delhi, Pradeep Sarkar’s film, which is “partly” inspired by a real-life cop as imagined by journalist and writer Hussain Zaidi, is mostly a taut, focused film that sets out to tell two stories — the story of child trafficking in India, and the story of a cop who makes it her mission to free one girl forced into sex trade, and thereby unravels a sex-trafficking ring. What’s new about Mardaani is that it puts a lady in the shoes of a classic movie hero. She’s quite literally the Dirty Harry of Maharashtra. But she doesn’t talk smack unless she needs to. She quietly goes about dispensing justice in all androgynous glory. Sans any redundant frills like unrealistic action or dialoguebaazi to add to the luster of the movie, Sarkar keeps everything well within the proportions and focused that too without any unwanted aural intruders. Besides what is praiseworthy and pertinent to mention about Mardaani's plot is that despite being a commercial cine venture it up-till great extent succeeds in sending across a social message conspicuously as well as obliquely. Mardaani breaks through all clichés and stereotypes and makes Indian Women feel proud about something.
STORY & SCREENPLAY :: The story of the movie has been penned down by Gopi Puthran on a concept suggested suggested by Hussain Zaisi & Vibha Singh. The best part about the storyline is that despite the protagonist of the story being kind of a superhero, the makers have taken the gritty realism route, letting her cape remain invisible. That’s the intelligent part of writing in the film. It’s designed to hit you exactly where it hurts. Nonetheless every shot of misogyny is shot with careful censorship. You won't feel offended by the visual & just by the characters. Crusading cops working for the greater common good have now taken residence in the superheroic realm after films like Dabangg and Singham, and it seems unfathomable that Shivani would entertain taunting calls from the trafficking ring’s leader Karan (Tahir Raj Bhasin) and risk life by travelling into his lair in Delhi purely for professional reasons. The reason you empathize with Rani’s character and her skirmish is because she is fighting the good fight. You’re exposed to the misdeeds of the villain pretty early. You hate him when you see him exercise such control over helpless girls and their virgin minds and bodies. Human trafficking is a serious crime. And Mardaani gives you the low down unadulterated. Seeing such emotional torture being inflicted on young girls can have only one effect: condemnation. Shivani Shivaji Rao (Rani Mukerji) is a senior inspector in Mumbai’s Crime Branch who doesn’t get frazzled or hassled easily — not when two-bit political goons threaten her, not when her senior reprimands her for being flexible with rules. She is also, as the film’s title suggests, gutsy and hardy. Shivani lives in a flat with her husband, Dr Bikram Roy (Jisshu Sengupta), and her niece. Pyari (Priyanka Sharma) is an orphan Shivani rescued and made a part of her extended family. On duty she’s either catching slippery dons, or restoring order by slapping around a few Bharatiya sanskriti bullies. This daily routine gets upset when Pyari doesn’t turn up to cut her birthday cake. Shivani goes looking for her — the trail from the orphanage first leads to a car dealer in Mumbai, and then to Delhi, to a man known as Vakil (Anil George) and the chief pimp, Karan (Tahir Raj Bhasin). Shivani makes it her mission to find Pyari. But while she is chasing them, she doesn’t know what’s happened to Pyari. We do. Pyari has been kidnapped by Karan’s gang and is now in the “market”. What follows, is a cat & mouse game which keeps you glued to your seats in anticipation of whats gonna happen next.
STARCAST :: Each n every actor of Mardaani has been aptly cast as per their character for which the casting director, Shanoo Sharma, deserves accolades. With Mardaani, Rani Mukherji marches past all Khans, Kapoors, Kumars and Devgns. Rani Mukerji proves yet again that she can give most A-listers today a run for their money. She's fierce, fearless and 'mardaani'. She carries the whole film on her shoulders alone. She knows how to hold the camera with just her eyes. Full marks to Rani Mukerji’s attempt and performance. The expletives never seem jarring, the androgyny doesn’t seem misplaced. She’s the hero of Mardaani and she’s pitch perfect. Although Rani embraced a de-glam avatar for "Mardaani" but in-spite of that she proved that when it comes to proving the mettle of her acting prowess then no one can beat her. Surprising all by his cut-to-cut performance is the 27 year old Tahir Bhasin in the role of Karan Rastogi a.k.a Walt, who is the Mafia Kingpin of the whole game. His style is natural and so is his acting. The newbie just delivered a scintillating performance. He gave the character the extra edge that made Walt look more ruthless, shrewd and inhumane. Anil George really impresses in a small and memorable part as the sleazy lawyer who operates the trafficking operation. Bengal’s pride Jissu Sengupta, had a brief role and there was not much for him to do. The young girl Priyanka Sharma in the role of Pyaari just makes you connect to the plight and it really takes a lot of mental preparation on part of a young girl to pull off such a role.
TECHNICAL FINESSE :: The soundtrack of Mardaani has been composed by Salim-Suleiman which is nothing to write home about as there is only a single track in the movie. But it Julius Packiam’s background music which is really good and elevates the cinematic proceedings by going in fine sync with it. Cinematography of Arthur Zurawaski who captures the milieu with utmost excellence is top notch. He has done a commendable job by depicting the gritty environ with striking visuals, closing in tight on the protagonist in dramatic moments. Also, Gopi deserves applause for writing some hard hitting dialogues in the screenplay which lift the tempo of the movie like ''Apne papa ko mera naam theek se bol, Shivani Shivaji Roy. Ukhaad, ukhaad jo ukhadneka hai. chal re.'' & ''Inka makeup aisa mat kiya kar jaise bacchiyan ho, un haramzadon ko inme apni maashuka dikhni chaiye, beti nahi''. The movie has been edited by Sanjib Datta who has kept the run-time to a crisp 113 minutes and has done a fabulous job as the movie catches hold of your attention right from the first scene to the climax without giving you a chance to go out for a loo break. Action sequences of Manohar Verma are quite realistic and looks exclusively designed for a women centric cine flick. As a director, Pradeep Sarkar does a fairly good job with the film. With a subject as strong as human trafficking, the film lives up to the expectations of a hard hitting piece of cinema, well, almost. He takes a different approach in the film, unlike his previous works & that's why the film has a fresh feel to it. With sinewy performer like Rani in the anterior of the camera Sarkar has once again astonished everyone with his cine experimentation. Well call it the cinematic dexterity of Sarkar or his vision from the very first frame till the consummation "Mardaani" never looses the appeal which a crime thriller with a message to communicate needs to have.
CONCLUSION :: MARDAANI is perfect balance between logic and emotion & is smart enough to engage your intelligence and dramatic enough to tug at your heart strings. The bare truth and the harsh reality depicted in the film will subconsciously leave a mark and will definitely leave you pondering about things other than just masala and Entertainment.
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