Mardaani Movie Review: A Thriller Worth An Applause
'I am the one who knocks'
Those familiar with blockbuster American crime drama 'Breaking Bad' would instantly relate to the line that went with the central character of the TV series. Walter White a.k.a. Heisenberg was the one who spread his terror there in the world of drugs, albeit keeping some level of sanity intact. He is, what one terms, as 'the man with grey shades'.
There are no such shades for the villain of the piece (Tahir Bhasin) in Mardaani. A namesake (Walt) who is unabashed in his worship of Walter White and proudly displays his poster too at his home, he is all black. His crimes are all the more heinous. In addition to drugs, he also deals in sex trafficking.
Based out of Delhi and dealing out of Gurgaon, he is bad, and the one who is out to break him is Rani Mukerji, who hunts for him all the way from Mumbai. A cat and mouse game, on the lines similar as that of Akshay Kumar-Freddy play in Holiday, begins and the narrative maintains a very good pace right through its two hour narrative.
Mardaani could well have entered an overtly dark zone, giving its setting of underage girls thrown into prostitution. However, full credit to director Pradeep Sarkar who not even once tries to get into the titillating zone. He had ample (justified) scope but he never resorts to skin show even when a dozen odd girls are paraded naked right in front of Walt. Moreover, there is no attempt to sensationalise the drama either. This means that no 'manufactured scenes' are embedded into the narrative so as to make you go all heavy hearted. Instead, the film acts as a heart pounding affair where you are taken on a roller coaster ride while being often thrown on the edge of the seat.
This is exactly where the win lies for Mardaani as the makers avoid taking the 'messaging' route and instead present the film as a thriller where sex trafficking happens to be an accompanying partner instead of taking over the driving seat. What compliments the entertainment quotient of the film are quite a few interesting scenes, many of which are unpredictable, especially the pre-climax which not many can see coming. As for the finale, it is just fitting as well and pretty much in a realistic zone too, despite coming across as filmy on the exterior.
This could well be the description of Tahir as well who is a non-filmy entrant making a terrific first impression. If not for his inherent villainy, his charm could well have made him a nice boy that girls would want to introduce to the parents. His screen presence, dialogue delivery, accent, body language, mannerisms, sense of humour - just about everything blends so beautifully into the character that he comes across as an absolute real guy from the next door. He has a future indeed in Bollywood.
As for Rani, the experienced actor that she is, one expects her to deliver each time around and she does that perfectly here. She is just terrific in the scene where she takes on a goon and the graph only goes upwards right till the last shot where she pours water over her head after a deadly encounter.
Meanwhile, Pradeep Sarkar has to be complimented for his choice of supporting actors. Whether it is Vakil (Anil George - a Vijay Anand lookalike, and simply brilliant), the car dealer (Arijit Singh lookalike, again - very good), Tahir's sidekick, Rani's fellow cops, the Sikh cop from Delhi, the fixer, the Minister and of course the girl who plays Pyaari (Priyanka Sharma) - everyone is truly convincing.
With very good entertainment and just the right dose of realism and filmy drama/thrills, Mardaani has enough power in it to draw an applause.