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Mardaani 2 Disturbingly,Villain Steals Show From Rani



Mardaani 2

Starring Rani Mukherjee, Vishal Jethwa

Written  & Directed  by Gopi Puthran

Rating: ** ½ (two  and a half stars)

 Something  deeply disturbing happens  in the course  of this tactile thriller about an audacious  criminal and a determined  law enforcer  playing a  game of cat-and-mouse to the  bloody finish.

Somewhere  during the  nailbiting narration, the  vile villain, so heinous  and barbaric in his  violence against women  that he could be  all the  gang rapists of the Nirbhaya case rolled into one, begins  to   seem  a far  more interesting character than  our  cop-heroine  Shivani Roy, whom we met  five years ago in the  first  Mardaani film.

Back then Rani Mukherjee appeared  far more fiery and  passionate. Maybe  it’s just age that has  caught  up  with Shivani  . Or worse, maybe  she has become bored with all the crime corruption and compromises around her.  But back then she seemed to care  much more when a street girl disappeared  and  was tracked down to a  flesh trader, played with magnetic malevolence by Tahir Raj  Bhasin  in Mardaani.

The  villain in Mardaani 2 is  a far more complex and disturbing character. He rapes and kills  young girls in the educational  hotbed of Kota in  Rajasthan with devastating impunity. What is even more disturbing is  that he talks directly to us, vomiting his  perverse thoughts  about women and why he  wants them brutally assaulted and mutilated  writhing on the floor begging for his mercy.

He hates women who  act equal with men. He is  a case-study of gender  prejudices .

 Yuck to that.  But here’s  the  thing. The young actor Vishal Jethwa playing this  despicable  sub-human trash is so  very effective, so clued  into his  character’s  twisted  mindset that  the villain ends  up being  far powerful than our female  hero who looks distracted and  a little bored all the  time.

Maybe Rani was  trying to do something  different with her role  this time. Except for her final goosebumpy breakdown  sequence where her tears roll with the end-credits,  Rani’s Shivani Roy shows  no   overt emotions.  She  would rather  go around  shouting at  undisciplined  subordinates  at  the  police station who either  look amused  and bewildered as they must  deal  with  their Khaki Ki Rani’s choler  round the  clock.

Sadly Rani’s outbursts are tame . Even when  Shivani  is  put on  television at  a most inopportune time  to speak on the disempowerment of  women—for  no  other reason except that she is played by  the producer’s wife—she  looks  distracted  and  uninvolved.This a passionless performance  from a  brilliant actress who shook us to our core with her rcent rousing performances  in Mardaani and  Hichki.The  encore leaves Rani cold.Or, so it seems specially when the  psychotic  villain’s part is  written with much more care.

Not that  Mardaani 2 is  not a watchable film.It is.  The taut and diversion-free screenplay  moves at a  breakneck speed  even as  the villain’s  audaciousness crosses all limits. But somewhere I felt  this film  was motivated  not  by its concern  for rape victims in  our country, but simply to give Rani Mukherjee a chance to beat the male-dominated profession at its own game.

 She  has  terrific support  from the cinematographer  Jishnu Bhattachajee  who  gives to the crime-enveloped  drama the feeling of dazzling drab. I felt Mardaani could have  gone  a lot  further  if it had not chosen to be  a film that talks to us  about a sick society without providing any healing remedies.

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