There is a formula even to crime thrillers in Bollywood. There'll be cliches, dead cops for sympathy, dead relatives for more emo, item songs pandering to the pervertedness in each one of us and a million punch-lines to knock the brains out of you. After all, if your brain is knocked out, you don't search for logic anymore.
Pradeep Sarkar, Mardaani's director though, makes some fine decisions. He has a taut story and he stays true to it, doesn't dilute it at any point, doesn't let it meander at any stage. He makes sure, he will tell the story in his style, without catering to the usual standards of Bollywood. Perhaps, his greatest achievement lies in the fact that by the end of the movie, when you understand why he chose such a sexist title for his story, you forget that you are looking at a female cop going about her business with classy efficiency.
Plot: True to its tagline, the real story starts when Shivani Shivaji Roy, Crime Branch, realises that her favorite kid at a shelter home, she once helped to save, has been kidnapped. She realises the seriousness of the organized human trafficking racket when she loses multiple witnesses shot with chilling finesse. Then starts the chase, almost a cat and mouse game or a game of chess if you had like to put it that way, between Shivani(Rani Mukherjee) and Karan(Tahir Bhasin), the kingping behind the human trafficking racket.
Cast & Crew: The movie is almost completely about three characters. Rani's Shivani is a no-nonsense cop while Tahir's Karan is the chilling anti-thesis to her honest-to-the-core act. Her nemesis is just as efficient as she is, hideous in his sophistication, a casual villainy that isn't seen much in commercial movies. Trained in body language, Tahir steals the show with his casual, almost boyish dialogue delivery with a villainous intent that is only accentuated by his lecherous looks and his burger-eating demeanour. Rani knows how much is enough and at no point tries to play the female supercop, too skilled and too good to be true. She is not a martial arts pro. She doesn't chew on gums ceaselessly or walk around with an unreal swagger, wearing sunglasses. Instead, she is human, all guts, unphased even when her family gets dragged into the issue, when her superior pulls her off the case. She is smart and mean as hell, just aviators short of true-blood, badass cop. Pyaari(Priyanka Sharma), the kid abducted and forced into escort service for pervert paedophiles has an emotive face and good presence too.
Music: The movie doesn't have any songs barring the original background track. That keeps the movie short and more importantly lets the audience go with the intensity. The background score by Karthik Raja though, is unnecessarily loud at times, almost swallowing some important dialogues, something the editing-directing team should have ironed out at the final cut.
Direction & Cinematography: The camera work is interesting. It is not too dark or bright, ensuring that the audience don't pull off happy-go-lucky cop stories or overtly dark tragic mafia movies from their memory. The camera work by Artur Zurawski is sharp at most times and ensures neo-age camera gimmicks don't distract the audience too much. Pradeep Sarkar, the director, deserves a pat on his back for ensuring that story has enough steam to draw attention to a very serious problem in the country right now, without turning off audiences with a movie they cannot stomach. It is a watchable movie that focusses on the right angles, pitting the right cop against the right nemesis.
All in all, Mardaani is a good movie that has a relevant story and an efficient crew that aims to make a watchable movie and succeeds beautifully at it.view less