Cast: Raveena Tandon, Divya Jagdale, Madhur Mittal, Shailendra Goyal, Anurag Arora, Saheem Khan and Rushad Rana
Director: Ashtar Sayed
In its efforts to make a social statement Astar Sayed’s Maatr-The Mother borrows the ‘Nirbhaya’ construct but here, it’s the mother-daughter duo who are gang-raped by 7 politically connected friends. Vidya (Raveena), a teacher and her daughter Tia (Alisha Khan), a student, are returning from a school annual function graced by the CM and en-route take a detour into a lonely unfamiliar road when they get waylaid and gang raped by seven male friends, who attended the function as part of the CM’s coterie. Tia is dead and Vidya survives the ordeal but her trauma is not over. The male cops on the case are insensitive to her plight and when they discover who the culprits are, they hang the crime on three other men uninvolved with the incident. From there the film just veers off into revenge mode.
The script appears to make several narrative leaps without much prepping and that makes it all look as if fate is as much a conspirator in the vengeance plan as Vidya is. The representation of the process of law is also a bugbear here. The rape testimony is taken entirely in the presence of male cops who add to the brutality by inadvertently informing the near comatose Vidya that her daughter did not survive. Even her Husband Ravi’s (Rushab Rana) constant whine about Vidya being responsible for the tragedy because she took the ‘wrong turn’ comes across as completely insensitive and alienating from the drama at hand. Not much effort is spent on representing the traumatized woman and her healing, if at all.
Also showing the cops as uninterested in the investigation of the rape while becoming more alert when the revenge spiel is on – makes it seem like a strategic ploy by the director to make the system look completely degraded. This black or white sort of construct defeats the purpose of such films – especially if it’s intent is to be informative and cautionary. Also the complete ease with which a solo traumatized woman goes about her business of killing her oppressors, makes it all seem too implausible. Raveena’s starry turn as the traumatized vengeful woman is strong on chutzpah but lacks depth mainly because the rudimentary scripting doesn’t allow for wholesome characterization. Divya Jagdale’s turn as her spunky, outspoken artist friend Ritu is entirely believable, though. There are no typical bollywood masala distractions here and that’s definitely a plus. The lack of adequate research effort does it in though. This one is brutal but unfulfilling.