Mardaani (2014)

Director of Parineeta, Laaga chunari mein daag and Lafangey Parindey, Pradeep Sarkar brings us a short, crisp, no song, female cop drama/thriller. A very tricky proposition. Did he live up to the challenge? He knocked it out of the park!

Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukherji) is a Crime Branch officer in Mumbai. She isn’t a total rebel but sometimes works outside the orders that are given to her. She stumbles upon a racket when a 12 year girl goes missing and follows the case with valour, strength and shrewdness. She faces obstacles, but does not breakdown. She is all Man.

The context here is of course not based on gender, but on characteristics. Of being resolute, strong (physical and mental), of protecting the ones who we pledged to protect and doing the right thing. While women have been given a more nurturing role in our society, it is forgotten that most times they are the ones who instil the above qualities, or other attributes, in their offspring.

Rani Mukherji has shown shades of this calibre before, but here it’s a full blown, A-rated, no sugar coating drama. She has trained to do action scenes which look realistic and her body language is not masculine but firm. Tahir Raj Bhasin plays a convincing and menacing bad guy. A host of supporting characters move the film along swiftly, giving our mind no chance to wander or disconnect.

The film is hard hitting. The scenes are bold and difficult to watch. The crimes violate not only the body but the soul as well. The punishment? You have to watch the film to see how its meted out. The language isn’t bad just for the sake of being so. No scene or act is done for effect. Everything leads to the conclusion, which has a valid and appropriate message for the public, the police force and all Indians.

The movie resonates deeply. Yes there are some loop holes, but in the larger picture, the heart, soul and head of the film leave an imprint in your mind. Must watch.

3.5/5

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Bombay Talkies

Celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema, this film is a talented tribute by 4 directors; Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap. Four stories that cover totally different genres, social spaces, dreams, aspirations and goals. What ties them together is the string known as ‘our world of films’.

The story by each director is short, yet complete. The well written characters are played by a confident cast. Urban, rural, modern, conservative, everything is weaved in effectively with a message. As each story begins and ends, you feel you have had a balanced Indian meal, a little bit of every spice and food group, giving you complete nutrition and satisfying your palette.

There is a well shot and fitting song at the end, featuring many of our favourite actors and actresses, either through a montage of their previous work or live in the song. That was the best dessert for such a meal. A proud moment indeed for our cinema and the ones that enjoy it.

It is a time capsule worth watching.

4/5