After Parineeta, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Lafangey Parindey, Pradeep Sarkar takes a stark turn in Mardaani which dwells on a subject matter which has been approached in different manners of the years but for once it is dealt with from the angle of vigilantism with the character of Shivani Shivaji Rao standing tall as a figure of hope and sheer wish fulfillment. She fights as if there is no tomorrow and in the end delivers a knockout punch by cleaning up the baddie in supreme style and conviction. Having said that what impressed me most about the film was its realism. Apart from a few scenes here and there, the story and the characters remain real for most of the part and the action remains believable.
Shivani Shivaji Rao (Rani Mukherji) is an uptight police officer who lives happily with her husband Bikram Roy (Jisshu Sengupta) and her niece. She saves a girl named Pyari (Priyanka Sharma) and delivers her to an NGO so that she may have a life but the girl gets kidnapped and lands up in a brutal human trafficking ring which swiftly crushes her life. Shivani at first takes the issue lightly but then on the behest of her niece decides to give the investigation a go. As she dwells more and more into the kidnapping, she uncovers an organized human trafficking racket led by a foxy and ruthless guy Karan (Tahir Bhasin). Now the question is whether she is able to save Pyari and bring down the house or not?
Mardaani follows a linear and no-nonsense narrative with decent plot twists and some engaging drama. There are no flashbacks or fancy story telling here. Its straight and simple cinema where the story unfolds as it is. No doubt that the subject matter has been visited numerous times before but what works wonders here are the performances and the screenplay. The film is able to hold on to your attention and there are no dull moments which make the narrative worthwhile. The film has no songs and the lone one appears as the credits roll. The runtime is short and the editing crisp which is a necessity in subjects like this. It is very easy for a director to go overboard in a film like this to show the macho side of his female protagonist but Sarkar is able to keep his urges at check which works wonders for the film.
The film has very few action sequences and the ones that it has utterly believable. There are no “flying super cops” or “kill 50 single handedly” sequences. The chases are physical and rendered believable because of total lack of any wire works. The final showdown is also scripted in a way which will not be too difficult for the audiences to fathom. The screenplay works more as a cat and mouse game than “a blow them all up” affair. Rani Mukherji is scintillating in a role which is in many ways similar to what she did in No One Killed Jessica. She breathes fire and does so through her eyes. The sequence where she coolly communicates with the baddie after her husband has been assaulted by a mob is a treat to watch. She keeps up the tempo throughout and never lets you drift. Bhasin as the baddie is the perfect foil for her. He keeps her at bay all the way till the climax and is utterly effective in his act.
I looked at Mardaani as wish fulfillment of the highest order. I personally detest flesh trade as I believe it to be demeaning not only for the women kind but humanity as a whole. Thus to see ladies land satisfying “kicks in the nuts” to their detestable and conniving oppressors was a treat. The fact that the relief comes only in the end also makes it that much more sweet and enjoyable. The film does have an important message to deliver and that it does with conviction. Don’t miss it.