- Movie Name:Mardaani 2
- Critics Rating: 3.5 / 5
- Release Date: Dec 13, 2019
- Director: Gopi Puthran
- Genre: Drama
This was a first -- right at the beginning of 'Mardaani 2', the light-eyed villain looks straight into the camera, and declares he should not be messed with. And why? Because he is an egoist, an improbable psycho and at the least, assigned with the "holy" responsibility of teaching 'aurat-jaat' a lesson in how to behave in the modern-day society.
From this moment till the very end, there is one person who takes all your breath away -- the clean-faced antagonist, played by Vishal Jethwa. He is a revelation, a person one would instantly fall in hate with. Vishal's Sunny is conniving, unbelievably clever and believably evil. He rapes women before mercilessly killing them. Because, ego.
EGO is the root cause of every crime against women, or so the movie emphasises. A lot. There are subordinates who would not take orders from a woman; there are politicos who would not treat women as their equals but will still go after their life; and there are psycho-killers who would rape and murder women if they hurt their ego. The narrative of the movie hammers this almost-truth into your psyche -- sometimes, way too hard.
And fighting this almost single-handedly is our heroine. Oh sorry, hero -- Shivani Shivaji Roy.
Rani Mukerji's Shivani has not changed since 2014. She's the same fiesty, fiery police officer whose straightforwardness is often mistaken as arrogance -- as happens with most of the women in the country, especially in the modern setting.
During the course of the second half of the film, there's an entire monologue that Shivani mouths detailing what a woman goes through on a daily basis, and that men can never understand that ordeal. When you watch the movie in one go, you do realise the monologue could have been done away with. But the composure, conviction and confidence with which Rani says it, and just what she says makes it so relatable -- especially to women.
The monologue is the only thing 'preachy' about the film, and has some of the best lines recent Bollywood movies have had.
By that measure, the other hero of the film is director Gopi Puthran, who has also written the script, screenplay and dialogues. Rapes and other crimes against women is one topic that could easily have been churned into an overdramatic sob story. But Puthran's art and tact of presenting emotions with facts make 'Mardaani 2' a treat to watch.
The narrative is gripping, so much so that it sometimes steals the thunder from Rani Mukerji's brilliance.
Rani is in top form, and aces every scene. She practically overshadows every other person when she's in the frame. Watch out for her in the climactic sequence. Her breakdown is an exemplar of the genius she is.
The second half of the movie is surprisingly underwhelming. When you expect there would be another cat-and-mouse chase between the hero and the villain, Shivani meets Sunny -- half-way. The chase from then too is not all that bad, but a little more thrill could have done the film wonders.
'Mardaani 2' also tends to stereotype its male characters -- almost all of them are chauvinistic, and blabber misogynistic lines only to get schooled by our "Mardaani". But there's a silver lining too -- at least one of the chauvinistic subordinates has a change of heart by the end of the film. Good enough!
Craftwise, 'Mardaani 2' is an important film -- for the central character, a female, is not supported by male superstars. The movie lavishly takes its male characters for granted, and that in a way, is a good change to begin with. The movie also does not fall into the category of a female-driven film that ridicules toxic masculinity, but vehemently and desperately adopts it. 'Mardaani 2' is a compelling feministic voice that asks for "hissedaari" [participation] -- "bhaagidaari" [equality] is a far-second choice.
Watch 'Mardaani 2' for its relevance in today's India, Rani Mukerji's brilliance, Vishal Jethwa's awesomeness, Gopi Puthran's screenplay, and just because you should.
IndiaTVNews.com verdict: 3.5 stars (an extra half-a-star because a woman has reviewed the film)
Watch the trailer: