Cast: Rani Mukerji
Director: Gopi Puthran
Gopi Puthran’s follow up to the first edition of Mardaani which gave us a female cop character for a film franchise joining the likes of Singham, opens well with a chilling appearance of the villain Sunny (Vishal Jethwa) in its very first scene around a Dussehra fair in Kota.
Given that the opening scene establishes who the villain is, and his habitual offence of brutally raping and killing young women it is not a whodunit. It is more a chase story where Mardaani aka Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) finally nabs the dreaded rapist-killer.
Gopi Puthran besides directing the film has also written the story, screenplay and dialogues, and this could be one of the reasons why the story suffers. The screenplay despite borrowing heavily from noir serial killers novels– in particular, the part where Shivani’s statement to the media that she would drag the 'dedh shana' (smart alec) by the collar and bring him to justice hurts Sunny’s ego making him go on a rampage to prove his cunning —is underwhelming.
The part that Puthran gets right is that a film such as Mardaani 2 needs a strong villain. Sunny is demonic, repulsive and sheer evil. He is also clever and always a step ahead of Shivani. And it is here that the movie falters big time. For the greater part of the film, Shivani despite Mukerji’s measured and confident strides seems clueless. Sure, she is her forthright self; unapologetic for her assured demeanour that rubs male colleagues the wrong way but there is little else in the script and her presentation to inspire confidence. There is only so far that talented actor can take a weak script and Mukerji does her best but is let down by the fact that the writer devotes too much time burnishing the villain’s character and shortchanging the lead protagonist in the bargain.
There is one brief scene where Shivani is being interviewed on television for a show called Kadwe Sawal and even in that quick monologue about the woes of women competing in a male patriarchal world, Mukerji shines. A lesser actor delivering those lines could have made it sound like a farcical rant but not Mukerji. The scorn, weariness, and matter-of-factness she imbues the lines with make the scene stand out.
Vishal Jethwa as the villain of the piece is quite a find. He performs exceedingly well as the psychotic mercenary-on-hire with no redeeming qualities.
The film then also goes on to establish society’s gender bias, the flawed patriarchal system that creates monsters like Sunny and so forth but fails to impress. One would have expected that though the heroine, an intelligent IPS officer, initially falters, she uses her smarts to outdo the super-smart villain, but that is not to be. Instead, Mardaani 2 ends up in a 'maar-dhaad' climax that may appeal to the front-benchers in single-screen cinema, but does not work within the set up of the film’s own first half.
Lacking both the exaggerated chutzpah of masala flicks like Rohit Shetty’s Singham or the sophistication of Meghna Gulzar’s police procedural Talvar, Mardaani 2 falls between two stools.
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