MARDAANI 2 (2019)

  • Release Date: 13/12/2019
  • Cast: Rani Mukerji, Vishal Jethwa, Sumit Nijhawan
  • Director: Gopi Puthran

Mardaani 2 is the follow-up to the 2014 film Mardaani that was directed by Pradeep Sarkar and co-written by Gopi Puthran and Vibha Singh. Gopi Puthran writes and directs this installment that chronicles the search for a serial rapist/killer who is targeting students in the city of Kota. Kota, being one of the educational hubs of the country attracts thousands of students every year and the brutal attack sends shivers across the country. The police come under unprecedented pressure to track down the killer. Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) is the SP of Kota and she quickly swings into action to nab the perpetrator. The killer, however, is cunning and always a step ahead of her. He twists and turns circumstances in such a manner that Shivani must face a severe backlash from the public and the authorities. As a result of it all, she is transferred from her post. But before she leaves, she has 48 hours to crack the case and nail the culprit.

Mardaani 2 is on the money from the get-go. The killer, Sunny (Vishal Jethwa) has been kept off almost all the publicity material but he is presented in all his brutality from the very first scene of the film. He breaks the fourth wall and interacts directly with the audiences. Through his words, we come to know about his psyche and why he is doing what he is doing. It also gives us an idea of his outlook on women and what their position should be in society as per him. These sequences almost always lead up to a brutal crime. Breaking the fourth wall is something that will not go down well with many. However, it worked really worked well for me. The reason for that was how these sequences were executed and the utter insanity that Vishal Jethwa was able to bring to them.

I loved the fact that Mardaani 2 is not just about Sunny and his killing spree. It is also about how Sunny is a part of a larger political game that is afoot in Kota. Sunny is a hitman for a political party. He does the killings for his own pleasure while for the political party he carries out hits for payment. This very party gives him some leverage to do his own bidding as they can get him to do their bidding. A decision that comes back with horrifying results for them later.  Even though the story mostly revolves around Sunny and his heinous crimes, we get enough of how Sunny an important clog in the political machinery of the local leaders and that track also culminates in an interesting and tense sequence. Sunny is out of his mind and that is as a result of his troubled childhood. He may not be very strong physically but has been killing for a long time and knows how to save himself and get in places that let him do what he wants to do. He is a shrewd manipulator and uses his childish looks to his advantage.

Vishal Jethwa is able to humanize and demonize the character in ways that make us look away from the flaws in the writing of the character and make us concentrate only on his act. He is hateful and there are moments when the audience will feel like killing him but that just goes on to show how good his performance is. He is also shown in different avatars and he excels in each and every one of them. My only complaint with the character is in the manner it is written at certain points. Sunny seems to have a key to every door. He turns up anywhere and everywhere and is able to pick up people twice his size and weight without breaking a sweat. How he reveals himself to Shivani was also not thought out well. The way he is discovered in the end was also based on a hunch that felt too far-fetched. However, all this is ignored when you are watching this film as you are so engrossed in Vishal Jethwa’s act. Hence the man should be given additional credit for pulling it all off with such effect and panache.

Rani Mukerji has a lot less to do this time around in terms of physicality. Her performance is mostly realized in meeting rooms, crime scenes, and a press meet. Shivani Shivaji Roy is a real cop who despite the writing inconsistencies remains real enough to leave a mark. It is a fact that Vishal Jethwa eats up Rani’s character in the scenes that they share together but that is in no way a raised finger on Rani’s performance. It must be noted that her character is written in such a way that Vishal always gets an upper hand in terms of drama and effect. Rani is earnest and believable in her act and she carries the character well. Her best moments come during the climax of the film when she finally gets to beat Sunny to a pulp. Having said that, her character too suffers from some writing inconsistencies that could have been easily avoided. The press conference was unwarranted and even though she had some great things to say, it was not in line with the spirit of the film.

Apart from the inconsistencies and believability issues in the way the characters are written, the writing of the film remains on point. The film is just about 102 minutes long and every second of that runtime is spent on the primary plot. There are no songs, no unnecessary romantic angles and even Shivani’s family life is completely shut out from the narrative. The basic premise is set. The time frame is set and then its all a cat and mouse game with one situation leading to another. The editing is in strong keeping with the writing and it complements the mood and feel of the narrative. The background score could have been better though. The last film at least had a memorable title track that I listen to sometimes even today.

I really liked the cinematography of the film. In today’s time, one of the biggest questions for me as a filmgoer as to whether I should catch a particular film in the theater or wait until it hits the OTT platforms. One of the biggest deciding factors for me in this regard is whether the visuals of the film deserve a big-screen treatment. By visuals, I don’t mean large scale action sequences or CGI laced spectacles. For me, the visuals are the overall look, layout, and feel of a film that is integral to the story. Mardaani 2 begins with an ariel view of a fair that can never be enjoyed in the way it is supposed to unless you catch it on the big screen. Thus, it is safe to say that one should catch this film on the big screen for this bit and a whole lot more.

Apart from the momentary lapses mentioned above, Mardaani 2 doesn’t give you much to complain about. This is a film that is relevant, perfectly timed and has two exceptionally well-realized performances from Rani Mukerji and Vishal Jethwa. The story is engrossing, and the screenplay is thrilling enough to keep you at the edge of your seats. I just wish they had kept the meeting between Rani and Vishal off till the very end and fixed some lingering issues in the believability of the film. That would have made this one of the year’s best films. It is still one of the most entertaining films of this year and deserves a watch.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 Out of 5 Star)   

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