Director Gopi Puthran takes the franchise strongly forward from what the first venture set out to achieve
In some shocking moments of the film Mardaani 2, you feel having goosebumps, in portions which are otherwise treated casually by the society. The film is brutal and raw, moving several steps ahead in the execution from the first outing made by Pradeep Sarkar way back in 2014. While Rani Mukherji reprises the role of Inspector Shivani Shivaji Roy and the track involving the menaces against women remains the same, the film takes a different route this time in the core essence. The first one dealt with the secrets of human trafficking and this one revolves around the issue of rape. Not that it’s the first time that rape has been depicted as an issue shouting out to be resolved with determination. But the way Puthran presents this comes with a pulling flair.
A young boy rapes girls for the mere pleasure of it. To satisfy his ego, he handpicks girls who are bold and flamboyant. A girl is raped in Kota, the investigation of which is being undertaken by S.P. Shivani Roy (Rani Mukherji). But the criminal challenges her heads on, to spice things up.
Written by Puthran himself, the story is simple and straight forward. It is basically a police investigation. While the presentation floors you and you are immersed in whatever is shown to you, you also wish that the story should have been deeper and more layered. Having said that, since Puthran creates a world so high on action and thrill, you are ready to ignore this very shortcoming of the writing.
Right from the horrific opening sequence leading to even more terrifying visuals (where the faint hearted might even close their eyes), its a film aiming straight at your heart. At times it wrenches you deep, or gives you striking thumps, or even makes you emotional. There is a scene early in the film when a girl is raped. While that’s the only one with such rawness in the entire film, Puthran has set it so strongly that you feel haunted by it all through the length of the film.
The crafting of the film is pacy, and more than the need of the narrative structure, it tugs your sensitivities. Hats off to the makers for a wonderful characterisation, especially of such a brutal villain. The narrative asks him to break the fourth wall and talk directly to you- something that stands out in the film and its technique of story telling.
Puthran should also be credited for giving a rooted layer to the antagonist wherein he is not only the rapist. The fact that he is an incorrigible criminal also doing other crimes adds up to the entire arc with exceptional cinematic beauty.
The stakes keep getting higher and higher, the tension keeps getting more and more intensified, and by the time you have the climax, you realize your breaths are heavy. With fear. With shock. With an awakening. The film shakes you with its claustrophobic appeal.
There is however a particular sequence of a TV interview in the film that seems out place and not directly connected to the scheme of the story. But since it is so nobly intentioned in the context of gender treatment, you sway with it effortlessly.
Rani Mukherji in the lead role is phenomenal. She comes seldom on screen. But whenever she does, she strikes gold. She takes her stint one notch higher in this one, where you actually feel her character has matured strongly in these 5 years, if you take it as a real scenario. She is right out there in every scene. As a police officer and also as a compassionate woman, she shines as an actor. She makes sure she gives the character shades by not portraying it in a single line of action.
Debutante Vishal Jethwa is the ruler of the film. He is horrifying. Hence he is incredible as an actor. You fear him. You hate him. You want to kill him with your bare hands. Such powerful is his act. Even in his introductory dialogue, he tells you how badly he needs to be abhorred. There are scenes where he dominates the entire measure of things being played on screen and commands like a ferocious beast.
Kudos to writers also for giving him such nuances. You reduce his intensity by even one percent, and you’ll lose the charm of the film. It is also because of his highly risen stature that the film shines within you.
The supporting cast too has done commendable job.
Music majorly comprising of a solid background score by John Stewart Eduri gives you chills in your spine. The story is told effectively through high-spirited score that makes you weep, wants to take you pride, and even makes you hate a particular segment. All this would have been difficult to achieve, if not for such wonderfully placed score tracks.
Cinematography by Jishnu Bhattacharjee is very good, equally in the dramatic as well as real portions of the film. The film is a visual treat for its use of lighting, which symbolically conveys more than what meets the eye. Production design by Sukant Panigrahy too is tight with the use of minimal and suffocating spaces for the kind of story it is. Smart placement of elements within the frames making the film finely tuned.
Editing by Monisha Baldawa gives the film the edge despite the story having a direct straight line of action. The film’s presentation, achieved from editing, is engaging and captivating. You can’t blink in the drama. And that’s a victory for the film. You are on the edges of your seats wanting to quickly know as to what will happen next.
There is not a single reason why you should not be watching this. Call it a numbing coincidence that the film releases at just the right time when the nation’s sentiments are in sync with the characters of the film, making this score well. With a strong responsible message on offer, the film treats you beautifully. Multiplex and single screen audiences alike. Young and old audiences alike. Do watch this one.