Taut, thrilling, disturbing yet reassuring. In her 50th year, Sri Devi still rules

By Atika Ahmad Farooqui | July 7th, 2017

Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.

What is it that we don’t like in the films of this age? Its predictability, old stories, old  techniques, stereotypes. And what is it that we really like in the movies? Something fresh, new age, a new treatment and a new narrative. Well Sri Devi’s calm but devious disposition, a brutal gang rape and a revenge story inspired by the oldest revenge and war saga – Mahabharat, Mom is something very fresh off Sri Devi’s plate.

A song in the film – Maafi Mushkil, in Arabic means, Its okay, no Problem. To pull a victim out of the gruesome memories of Gang rape, assault and physical abuse, we need to tell her, Its Okay- This too shall pass.

It’s the most beautiful thing in the film but would the mother of the victim let it pass? NO. And in this case even while the mother who is not a biological mother, she will prove that it does not need blood ties to avenge her child’s misery.

Director Ravi Udayavar’s narrative is very pacy, almost edge of the seat. There is nothing surplus and every scene serves a mission. Arya ( Sajal Ali ) has a strained relationship with her stepmother but is compensated by a loving father and a little stepsister. She switches to friends to fill the void left behind after the death of her mother. While we expected that director and story writer Ravi would keep the relationship strained forever, instead he dwells on unpredictability and shows a step mother risk her own life to avenge her step daughter’s ordeal.

The film sucks you in its world right from the beginning. Cinematographer Anay Goswami creates a Capital that we easily connect with. There is nothing artificial here. Screenplay by  Girish Kohli absorbs you into a small world where everything seems be your own story and Monisha Baldawa’s crisp editing does not leave a second to waste. Everything is for a purpose here.

Right from the beginning, we are one with Devaki’s character played by Sri devi who is a loving wife to Anand ( Adnan Siddiqui ). She looks ordinary but she is capable of much more sinister. That’s the catch of the film.

Stay on to see some nicely mounted scenes between Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sri who holds his ground in front of the 54 year old Cinestar. Nawazuddin provides a few relief moments in this otherwise edge of the seat thriller. The artificial dentures are just to provide a visual  relief and add some novelty to this character though.  In a scene while watching a red painting symbolizing Draupadi’s revenge, he says, “Aisi painting to hum paan ki thook se bana dete”. Hilarious.  

The film feeds on our hatred towards Rapists. After Nirbhaya rape case, each brutal gang rape has been in the strict eyes of media and legal scrutiny ( arguably so ). We hate the men in the film who are products of depraved patriarchy. In a climax scene Nawazuddin in a dialogue says, Mard Rape nahin karte. Whether this film drives home the point can be argued upon but the point, that Sri devi in her 50th year of acting can still hold a film on her shoulders cannot be refuted.     

Akshay Khanna, like in most of his films proves that less is more on the big screen. He keeps it real.

One of the finest things in the film that adds soul is A R Rahman’s music. His background music in some of the key scenes makes us imagine things much worse. For example the scenes of gang rape in a black SUV roaming on the empty streets of Delhi gives you goose pimples along with steady camera and crane shots. The horror lived by the girls of this heinous crime will be well imagined by the viewer here.  

The problem comes at the end of the story though where things start to feel so clear that you almost know what will happen next.

The plot though interesting becomes too linear and simplistic and lacks drama and layering. Sri devi, albeit just a school teacher is the wonder woman who will get what she wants defying the prying eyes of the police. The story and plot conveniently lets her do that as she is a star and needs to be vindicated. Just in the end we feel the pinch of a very promising premise turning into a fanfare account. But otherwise largely the film remains a taut thriller.

Adnan Siddiqui a veteran artist from Pakistan gets a raw deal with not muct to do here in the role of Anand ( Sri devi’s husband. Suggest you watch one of his plays – Mere Qatil mere Dildar on internet, just to understand his range as an actor ).

Also Sajal Ali, another acclaimed actor is brilliant in the role of the victim. Her brooding, repenting eyes made me shed many a tear, she successfully made us identify with the families who suffer this trauma.

Abhimanyu singh in the role of the main villain is creepy, detestable and very apt for the role. Wonder why most of the rapists in our films have Haryanvi accent these days.

Apart from a few predictable turns and holes in the plot, MOM remains a treat to watch as a film and an experience to be lived. Some films are mirror to our world, we need to look into it.

3 Stars