Synopsis – Shivani Shivaji Roy locks horns with the devil incarnate, a young & remorseless serial killer who is raping & murdering young women.
My Take – It is sad truth that it has become an incomprehensible to look at the crime statistics against women in India. With more and more incidents continuing to rock the country, the government continues to remain under pressure to build and enforce strong laws, in order to counter the widespread protests.
However, with current rape case statistics revealing that over 2000 rapes are committed by boys under 18 years every year, the actions taken continue to remain chagrin.
Hence, this Rani Mukerji led film, a sequel to her 2014 hit, could not have come at a better time, which just like its predecessor successfully manages to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller with a perfect blend of what and how society treats a woman even today, and what needs to be changed.
However, viewers must be warned that, in order to endure this Gopi Puthran directed film, one needs to have a strong appetite, with violence especially on full display. Apart from that, the film is immensely watchable, as director Puthran does not dawdle anywhere for more than a few seconds, and intermittently gets the villain to break the fourth wall, adding to the drama. Making this film, relevant, powerful and inspiring.
Picking up right after the events of the first installment, the story once again follows Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji), who is posted as the superintendent of police in Kota, Rajasthan, to investigate the rape and murder of a young girl. Unknown to her the crime is committed by Sunny (Vishal Jethwa), an underage resourceful, highly intelligent and unhinged hitman, who had initially come to the city to carry out an assignment, but began his personal vendetta against strong young women by raping, torturing and murdering them as a punishment.
And when Shivani openly mocks him at a press conference, he becomes obsessed with showing her place. Thus begins a game of thrust and parry between a murderous maniac and a sharp, tough-as-nails policewoman, who is also forced to reckon with the baggage that comes with being a woman in power.
Unlike its previous installment, the sequel doesn’t wait to introduce its antagonist, as director-writer Gopi Puthran, begins the story establishing the villain. While the 2014 film was about the cat-and-mouse dynamic between the mysterious child trafficker Karan Rastogi (Tahir Raj Bhasin), and Shivani’s blunt, brilliant cop, here, the serial rapist and killer for hire, Sunny gets almost as much screen-time as Shivani, and is not just scarily efficient but almost unwatchably monstrous.
Here, director Puthran weaves a gripping tale and he doesn’t loosen the grip through the whole of the 105 minute run time and that right there is the film’s biggest win. He also deserves for sketching a character like Sunny who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and the narrative doesn’t apologize for him. Sunny personifies the feudal mindset that is plaguing India, that woman should not compete with men. Sunny tortures women because he can overpower them with his physical strength.
His ultimate kick is causing women maximum hurt – something that goes beyond physical hurt in his mind, hurting their ‘honor.’ But then, he doesn’t stop at that. He turns their embarrassment into a spectacle, hanging his half-dead, bleeding near-mangled victim by a noose for all to find.
But he is also a pawn in a larger, dirty game. Sadly, the story doesn’t even go as far as to expose the men in positions of power who are actually brokering this mindset and finds happiness in catching a small fish. Hence the climax acts a perfect desert which will cater to a majority of the audience. A scene which includes Shivani whipping away at Sunny with a belt as the camera is panned at her from below, leaving you disturbed as well as strangely satisfying.
Like its predecessor, Shivani once gives her male-dominated team zingers about not respecting women and being patronizing. This time, though, she takes on the fight for feminism one notch higher by speaking for women everywhere. The film highlights how even today if a woman wants to take charge of the situation, not just men but women also demotivate them. Victim blaming has seeped into the societal fabric. The dialogues are impactful and hard-hitting.
However, if I had to pick a flaw, it would be how the film at times rode into unrealistic situations, a factor which the Pradeep Sarkar directed prequel mainly avoided.
Nevertheless, the performances manage to keep the interest anchored throughout. Rani Mukerji once again manages to be exceptional. Here, Mukerji has the right attitude as the SP Shivani Roy and is was very convincing throughout. But it is debutante Vishal Jethwa, who manages to steal the whole show. He, in places, outshines Rani, even though both characters are equally strongly written.
The entire film is shouldered on these two, and while other characters are made available for support, the actors are hardly given the scope to do anything more. On the whole, ‘Mardaani 2’ is a gripping and impactful thriller backed by strong performances.
Directed – Gopi Puthran
Rated – NR
Run Time – 105 minutes