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.
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.
SearchIndia.com strongly encourages you to see Mardaani.
Like the Halley’s Comet, a watchable Bollywood movie doesn’t come by often.