Mardaani – Miracle! Indian Film No Stinky

Gentlemen, please key in your bids on the iPads for item #104 [a young girl up for sale].

100% virgin. 100% pure.


– Scene from Mardaani

Amid the stinking dungheap of crappy Bollywood movies, Mardaani stands out as an aberration.

A rare Indian film that comes across as a breath of fresh air.

All round fine performances (Rani Mukerji, Tahir Bhasin etc), decent writing (Gopi Puthran) and above all competent direction (Pradeep Sarkar of Parineeta fame) left me in a joyous mood as I left the multiplex.

Yes, Mardaani bears some resemblance to the 2008 English film Taken in the broad storyline – Of a young girl being kidnapped by sex traffickers and the subsequent manhunt for the criminals by the father (played by Liam Neeson).

But Mardani’s debt to the English film is not in the same league as Imtiaz Ali’s pathetic piece of stolen shit Highway that had Indian critics deepthroating the film despite overwhelming evidence of plagiarism.

Oh yes, I’d rate Mardaani better than Taken.

Mardani director Pradeep Sarkar deserves kudos for straying from the beaten path (of drivel like Kick, Dabanng, Humshakals, Singham Returns etc) and putting out a fine, mostly realistic Bollywood movie.

When Pyaari, a young flower peddler on Mumbai’s streets, is kidnapped by child traffickers, Mumbai Crime Branch Inspector Shivani (Rani Mukerji) is galvanized into action.

Pyaari, previously rescued from a dire fate by Shivani, also happens to be a friend of her niece Meera.

Mumbai police quickly realize Pyaari’s kidnapping is no isolated crime but one of several by a child trafficking and drugs syndicate.

Make no mistake.

Despite the police setting of the film or Rani’s role as an inspector, Mardaani is not a typical tiresome action film with car chases, leaps from tall buildings or a fight a minute.

This is a carefully plotted, almost realistic film that moves at a calm, brisk (but not frenetic) pace.

Rani Mukerji delivers a solid, subdued performance as a police officer without any of the Dabanng-style nonsense that delights Indian moviegoers who thrive on cheap thrills.

The dialogs are crisp and the just desserts ending a neat affair.

Cool Villain

Indian movie villains are invariably crude caricatures.

They exist merely to showcase the ‘godly, super-human’ nature of our heroes who smash them to pulp every 15 minutes without as much as suffering a scratch.

Thank God for Mardaani’s villain Walt/Karan Rastogi, the “12th man in the under-19 team” (as our heroine Inspector Shivani sarcastically taunts him).

Young in years but ripe in his acting, Tahir Bhasin does a remarkable job as the unflappable mastermind of the child trafficking and drugs kingpin Walt/Karan.

Despite being pitted against a veteran actress like Rani Mukerji, Tahir manages to leave a solid impression. God, I hope we see more of this young man. strongly encourages you to see Mardaani.

Like the Halley’s Comet, a watchable Bollywood movie doesn’t come by often.

4 Responses to "Mardaani – Miracle! Indian Film No Stinky"

  1. rvasam   August 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Absolutely agree.

    Just watched the move and thoroughly enjoyed it minute to minute.

    Rani Mukherjee has been one of my favorite character actresses of all time… she just has to be given the right role and the script.

    I second SI’s recommendation to watch this one for a change.

    BTW, that scene where they bid using IPAD’s is borrowed from the “Hostel” movie series directed by Eli Roth.

    If you are one of those non-conventional movie lovers, you should watch Hostel 1, 2 and 3. Not for the faint. Responds:

    1. Glad you liked Mardaani, sweetie.

    Besides Rani, I loved the cool cat who played the villain.

    I think this is my favorite Rani film.

    2. Will add Hostel to my Netflix queue. They should have it. Maybe, I’ll check in my local library first (this morning I was stunned to find Ranjhanaa in my library. Borrowed it along with Dariush Mehrjui’s Hamoun considered a classic by some).

    I’ve seen use of iPad in key scenes in other films too. Can’t remember if it was Indian or Hollywood/Foreign.

    3. BTW, the Foreign (non-Hollywood) section on SI blog has several ‘non-conventional’ (to borrow your expression) movies.

  2. sam   August 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I remember that SI has always praised Rani’s acting through the years, Black, Saawariya, KANK, etc.

    Now having watched her latest offering, what is your opinion

    a. Has her capability diminished after such a long gap and marriage.

    b. If u remember Gulam was her 1st film, and Aamir khan, still continues to play the lover boy. What should good actresses do to lengthen their careers.

    c. Will she be accepted by the viewers even now. Responds:

    1. Rani is still pretty good. I doubt age/gaps and marriage have anything to do with acting talent.

    Meryl Streep is still going strong.

    If anything, Rani has a better chance now that she’s the wife of India’s leading movie producer (Aditya Chopra). I expect she’ll turn director sooner rather than later.

    2. Talented Bollywood Actresses (a rare breed in Mera Bharat Mahaan) should pick good scripts but unfortunately there are not many female-oriented scripts in Indian movies. Thankfully, the few that are available go either to Vidya Balan or Rani Mukerji.

    In any case, the rest (Kareena, Katrina, Aishwarya, Priyanka, Tamannah, Anushka Sharma etc) are terrible.

    3. For the most part, Indian moviegoers are a classless bunch of Neanderthals deluding the world that they too are members of Homo Sapiens.

    So movies like Mardaani will not get the warm reception they deserve from Indian movie buffs.

  3. sam   August 24, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Will you review Bobby Jasoos ,latest Vidya Balan film? Responds:

    Sure, if I can find the DVD on Netflix.

    Since it’s new it might take a couple of months for Bobby Jasoos to ge to Netflix.

    I’ve seen the trailer a few times in the theatre.

  4. sanjaaay12   August 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Have you seen ‘Queen’…?

    Dont miss it Responds:

    Queen? No.

    Just watched Lunchbox. Good!

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