Monday, August 25, 2014
Mardaani discloses certain skeletons in the closet that would have best stayed in the closet so as not to affect our conscience. But too bad, Pradeep Sarkar decided to take a stand in regard to a growing issue that is plaguing India at large: child sex trafficking. Sarkar backs up his movie with authentic figures – every eight minutes, a child goes missing in India; UNICEF reports that almost 1.2 million children from India are trafficked for sexual exploitation every year. Those are some staggering numbers, especially if we are at all worried about the ‘future’ of our nation. With a backdrop of the growing child sex and drug trafficking, Sarkar makes Mardaani about a tough female cop, who makes it her mission to find her surrogate daughter, who had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
Rani Mukheji plays Shivani Shivaji Roy, a no-nonsense cop, who holds her stead easily in a male dominated world. Her colleagues look up to her and support her, which is refreshing to see for a change; they have their ‘ma’am’s’ back at all costs. But please don’t be rash and take this to be a sign of a feminist film; instead be a little open minded and not bring in gender at all for the protagonist. As a celebrated police officer of the Mumbai crime branch, she is married to a doctor, played by Jishhu Sengupta, and is a mother to her niece, Meera. When Pyari, a young girl who is the same age as Meera and who is Shivani’s surrogate daughter, whom she had saved from a life of hardship of begging around in the railway station, goes missing, Shivani stumbles across a nefarious racket of child sex trafficking. Thus begins the thrilling chase of the good and the bad.
Mukherji, coming back from a hiatus, packs a powerful performance. She has no qualms in slapping the shit out of a goon when he threatens her to leave them alone and continue with their riot. She has worked hard for the role which shows in the actions sequences. As a fierce, gutsy police officer, she is not surprised when the kingpin of the sex trade operation contacts her over the phone and warns her to stay back. Instead she makes light of the situation by calling him the “under 19 ke 12th man.” She practices kickboxing, yoga and keeps herself fit and at top shape so that she can chase killers trying to evade arrest on motorbikes. She is equally at ease with her colleagues cracking jokes about their boss – “Arre koi boss ki biwi ko shopping kara do yaar!”
Shivani Roy is the typical character of tough cop, we have seen plenty of them before. The only aspect that I felt was a little overdone was how Mukherji pulled up her sleeves frequently throughout the movie in order to accentuate her swagger; that was unnecessary. Mukerji carries Mardaani on her shoulders, with some support from Tahir Bhasin, who plays the cool, suave mastermind of the gang. I am glad that someone is doing their bit in order to bring awareness about an issue of this huge magnitude in the limelight. All hail Mardaani!