Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) is a senior inspector crime branch, in Mumbai. Clever at picking up hidden clues and fearless in confronting hardened criminals with wild chase, Shivani takes on a case that changes her life. A teenage girl, Pyaari, who is like a daughter to her, is kidnapped by the trafficking mafia and the mafia kingpin smuggled the girl outside the city.
The mafia kingpin calls Shivani and wants to know what she wants, so she will stop chasing them. Shivani asks the mafia kingpin to let Pyaari free, but the mafia kingpin won’t let her free, because Pyaari has seen too much. Shivani Shivaji Roy tries to catch the mafia in 30 days and what follows is a cat and mouse game between a ruthless mafia kingpin and police.
MARDAANI grabs your attention from the commencement and never relents. Padding the proceedings with several intense episodes, MARDAANI eventually becomes the good versus evil fight as the protagonist makes her way to the baddie behind the baddies. The simmering rage of the protagonist, as the mystery behind the kidnapping deepens, is illustrated convincingly, while the director also incorporates ample emotional baggage that would make you connect with the on-screen characters.
However, you cannot turn a blind eye to the blemishes. Sarkar knows the necessity of keeping the thriller moving in those 113 minutes, but there are times — in the second half specifically — when the film slows a little, before the protagonist zeroes on the kingpin. Moreover, MARDAANI adopts the standard route towards the penultimate stages, when Rani and the baddie come face to face. The culmination, although well executed, could’ve remained realistic, like the rest of the film. In fact, Sarkar manages to keep you hooked for most parts, but why this need to get formulaic in the concluding reels?
Sarkar’s stance to sidetrack the soundtrack is indeed courageous. The conventional entertainment-seeking spectator, so used to the mandatory songs every 15/20 minutes, may whine initially, but let’s face it, the same people also grumble if a song derails the story when the drama intensifies [there’s just one song that appears towards the conclusion thankfully!]. Also, Sarkar steers clear of graphic violence, avoiding excessive blood and gore. The background score [Julius Packiam] is perfect and the composer makes sure he doesn’t go overboard. The DoP [Artur Zurawski] depicts the gritty environ with striking visuals, closing in tight on the protagonist in dramatic moments.
Enacting the part of the tough-talking cop who goes in pursuit of those who run the sex trafficking ring, Rani strikes a true to life, forceful pose and also lends her character the much-needed intensity, strength and dignity. The agony that drives her forward is visible on her face and is one of the prime reasons that makes this story easy to swallow. In a lesser actor’s hands, the written material would not have been so competently delivered.
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