Madari – Gimmicky referendum on Corruption in Politics

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tushar Dalvi, Jimmy Sheirgill , Nitesh Pandey, Master Vishesh Bansal

Director: Nishikant Kamat

Rating: * * ½

Runtime: 133 mins

The Kidnapping of a Home Minister is a big deal and the Madaari (so named because he makes the political class and their minders dance to his tunes) fueled by victimization, anger and a vigilante zeal to cleanse the system sets out to show the Political class that the Aam Aadmi matters too.

This is Irrfan Khan’s debut home production and it shows. Only he would have dared to pit himself as a canny protagonist fighting fire with fire in a solo hero project where the other known player Jimmy Sheirgill is merely a supportive foil for his aam aadmi rebellion against the ruling class. We’ve seen ‘Inquilab’ and many others before and after it, trying to cleanse the system of the corrupting rot represented by greedy conscienceless politicians. Combine those threads with the ‘A Wednesday’ story-telling device and you get ‘Madaari Sshhh..Desh So Raha Hai.’

To start with the concept is a good one and the writer smartly gets a turnaround underway while everyone is misguided to look the other.  It’s a trick as old as the hills and many other filmmakers have used it in the past. Yet, in ‘Madaari’ it comes on you so suddenly that you feel anguished. Was the Aam Aadmi’s fight for nothing ?

Nishikant Kamat plays it smartly but the effect is not sharply delivered. The narrative is a little too choppy trying to confuse and elude rather than stay coherent. And it’s gimmicky nature is a deterrent to the overall enjoyment. There’s a back story to the kidnapping set-up which involves a single father, Nirmal Kumar’s angst at the loss of his son due to negligence of officials. The interplay between the current victim and the former one becomes a cat and mouse game. And public sentiment is shown-up as fragile and inconsistent, floating towards those who play the emotional card to greater affect. The media and the politicians come in for the biggest hits. Snide one-liners pinch hit on them while the eventual outcome is being decided. The ministers involved, structural engineer, architect/builder and the kidnapped child’s father are all sloppily lead to a one room tenement in a chawl where the referendum is moderated.  The run-up to the climax is just not plausible and suspending your disbelief for that middle-India stretch of miles per minute is asking for too much.

While the intentions seem noble, there’s so much contrivance and obvious subterfuge involved that a large stretch of narrative appears unbelievable and strange. In fact the only ingredient that keeps you rooted through the entire haphazard plotting are the two charismatic performers. Irrfan, in a rare bout of self-indulgence goes a little over-the-top trying to chisel out a masterful performance while Jimmy Sheirgill, the super-performer, as super-cop Natchiket, shows us once again how incredible talented and effective he is- even in a role that most star-actors would reject.

‘Madaari’ doesn’t quite work as a thrill-a-minute suspense thriller but just about manages to stay interesting thanks to the two redoubtable actors steering it through the morass of déjà vu mindset impeded by contrivance and convenience.

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