Mardaani 2 Movie Review: Much prefer to its prequel
Mardaani 2 is very much a Bollywood styled 'thriller' still
U/A: Action, Crime
Director: Gopi Puthran
Cast: Rani Mukerji, Vishal Jethwa, Rajesh Sharma, Shruti Bapna, Vikram Singh Chauhan, Deepika Amin
Nope, don't have any direct connection to make between the mentally imbalanced 21-year-old villain in this film, and Joker from earlier in the year — that masterful role most likely to pick up the Oscar this year. What the film does, in line with Joker perhaps, is follow a super-hero/franchise format, which is to expand the role of the anti-hero, giving it greater screen-time, and stronger character-sketch.
For, if you've already seen Pradeep Sarkar's Mardaani (2014) — surely many have, for it to merit a sequel in the first place — there's so much you already know about this film. And which can't change, anyway. One, the lead is a full-on 'dabang', daring female cop (Rani Mukerji). She might look (relatively) frail. But she's feisty and fit as fiddle.
Between the two parts of the movie, it appears the main character's graduated from a senior inspector's position in Mumbai Crime Branch, to a proper Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, posted as superintendent of police (SP) in a small-town. This allows for a change in location. And therefore a different look and 'feel' for this film. And that's good to see/know.
The town's Kota, Rajasthan. What do we know it for? Primarily, as the engineering-entrance, coaching-centre capital of India. Rape of a young girl occurring in such a place, out on a street, is likely to shake the innards of parents across the country — who send their 16 to 18-year-old children off to live on their own, and study in a town like this.
The premise is credible, and interesting enough. Movie-wise, here's another thing that's happened ever since the original Mardaani (co-written by Gopi Puthran, the director of this film) came out. So did two incredible pieces of work centred on desi female cops. One was a web-series, Richie Mehta's Delhi Crime (2019), starring the stunning Shefali Shah, which was directly related to Delhi's Nirbhaya rape case. The other was a film, Ivan Ayr's Soni (2018), also deeply inspired by the same 2012 incident/tragedy.
Does the realism from those two works somehow seep into this movie? Does look like it. Both in the lighting of the scenes, and the story it follows, Mardaani 2 is much darker than its prequel. Sure it seems more real too. Does that make it better? Do think so — whole lot better than Rani Mukerji as a cop in disguise in Mardaani, chasing around as an auto-rickshaw driver in Delhi, for sure!
Watch the trailer of Rani Mukerji and Vishal Jethwa starrer Mardaani 2 here
Here's the catch though. This is very much a Bollywood styled 'thriller' still. And for a film that tries so hard to still play out as a police procedural, the sheer coincidences, and conveniently low-level detective work employed to crack seemingly unrelated, complicated criminal cases, in no time, might put you off, more than a little bit.
Does it irk you enough to stop engaging altogether? Not really. The film keeps you interested still, veering further into a serial-killer drama, involving the messed-up young villain, with severe mental issues, who seeks pleasure in crime, rather than indulging in it out of impulse. The lead (Mukerji), on the other hand, has issues of her own to deal with, being a woman boss in a completely man's world.
Between this hero and that villain, and a film oscillating between a cathartic thriller, psycho drama, and a police-procedural, what strikes you most is the finely hand-picked cast in this line-up — right from Sumit Nijhawan, who plays the veteran, local deputy SP, down to, of course, Vishal Jethwa, that boy-villain, constantly changing his menacing look, prowling around to prove that, yes, we're not safe, anywhere, anymore.
But can we personally do something about it? Very little. A film like this certainly helps channel some of our frustration in a dark hall, within an important story, among people, who feel the same!
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