Cast: Sridevi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna, Sajal Ali, Adnan Siddiqui, Abhimanyu Singh,
Director: Ravi Udayavar
There’s plenty of reason for Sridevi to celebrate her latest comeback to the big screen. In the 300th film of her career span of 50 years, she makes her presence felt in a melodramatic revenge drama that pits her as Devaki, the vengeance-seeking step-mom seeking blood for the vicious trauma handed down to her step-daughter Arya (Sajal Ali), by four rapists.
The film is a fairly tautly put-together thriller that has her in an author-backed lead role as the ‘Mom’ who goes all the way to prove herself worthy to her unreasonably antagonistic stepdaughter. The relationship between the two is uneasy at best- not because it’s organic but because the director/writers willed it so.
Typically, in such misguided thrillers, the judiciary and police show up as suspect – thus allowing for the Mom to go into vigilante mode and snuff out the rapists one at a time. It’s a contrived and unbelievable set-up because there’s absolutely no certainty in the sequence of events that lead to the culprits getting off without a conviction.
Director Udayavar seemed to be in a hurry to get going with the revenge part of the drama and as a result rushes through, quite sloppily, with the courtroom specifics. Some sequences are intelligently plotted but there are far too many loopholes in the script, to overlook. Also, the camera goes a little overboard trying to give Sridevi all the attention, thus neglecting the rest of the characters in the by-play.
The scene of the party where alcohol and drugs are being splashed around in a group of young adults under the legally permissible age is not in good taste. It’s negligence on the part of the director to not be able to circumnavigate that curve with a more telling sequence. Also, I found Arya’s getting permission for the party as a little too hasty and easy. Most concerned parents would have maintained a stricter vigil on their impressionable, openly insolent daughters.
There’s a lot that’s contrary in the film including the detective’s secret involvement and the cop-out at the end. A R Rahman’s unimpressive musical score, cinematographer Anay Goswamy’s ill-defined efforts to generate mood and sloppy scripting takes the bite out the experience.
But what holds your attention through all that muddle and contrivances is Sridevi’s bravura turn and Sajal’s strong screen presence. Udayavar manages to keep the narrative fairly taut but the tempo and suspense is not sharp enough. This one is better than most of the riff-raff that passes off as mainstream masala but it’s not among the best for sure.