The movie Mardaani 2 is disturbing. It gripped me, it shook me, and it affected my thought process. Let me tell you why. (Spoilers inside)

Let me begin with the end. Towards the end of the movie the villain says, according to our scriptures when women step outside their ‘aukaat’ (boundaries) everything gets destroyed. And so a man (the antagonist) Sunny (played by Vishal Jethwa) is out to set the world right. And in the process he commits the most heinous of crimes, that too because he has a dark past which made him the monster he is today. That is the gist of the film.

Supercop Shivani Shivaji Roy, played by Rani Mukerji is handed over the task to smoke out the perpetrator. This is the second installment of Mardaani series. In the first installment she is after child traffickers, here she is after a young serial rapist and a ‘supari’ killer.

While I was with Roy through-out the movie, the director makes the antagonist speak to the audience directly at times, if it was meant to creep us out, he managed to do that. With this direct conversation we get to know how his mind worked and why he was doing what he was doing.

The storyline

The one-hour-45-minute movie is one cat and mouse game, a police officer after a criminal where one wants to outdo the other.

It goes straight to the point from the very beginning, it starts with Sunny abducting a girl from a mela in Kota in Rajasthan. And committing the most heinous of crime, he doesn’t just rape, but brutally murders her too. The extent of the brutality is told to us by the doctor who does the autopsy of the girl and then informs Roy. Roy in a rare instance is shown to shed a tear and so does the doc. My skin crawled, everyone in the audience got goosebumps too I am sure.

This movie has released just after the Hyderabad horror, and that is gut-wrenching. More so because the perpetrator is as young as the rapists in the real Hyderabad case or for that matter the Nirbhaya case.

Gopi Puthran who is the director of this movie was the writer of Mardaani (2014). I applaud him, he made me sit on the edge throughout the run of the movie with his deft camerawork and tight storyline, not a single second or scene can be missed. The biggest plus is the length of the film, it’s not stretched unnecessarily.

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While I was with Roy through-out the movie, the director makes the antagonist speak to the audience directly at times, if it was meant to creep us out, he managed to do that. With this direct conversation, we get to know how his mind worked and why he was doing what he was doing.

Also, I would like to mention here, a chill ran down my spine to see the mutilated bodies of the girls, it was shown I guess because the villain wanted to make a spectacle out of them as he got a kick by meting out maximum torture.

Issues raised

The film also highlights what women face when they decide to step out to take their space in the world. A male junior colleague finds it difficult to take orders from a woman officer. Roy knows this and doesn’t care.  Her senior tells her that we still live in a society which thinks that even if a woman is allowed to work and take up positions as men, she should still be within boundaries set by society. She should appease the ego of a man basically.

Roy gives an impassioned speech in a TV show about what women face, especially working women, once they step out. She mentions things like ‘hope my bra strap is not showing’, ‘hope I am not laughing too loud’, ‘hope my clothes are not revealing’ as some of the things from the many others that keep playing in a woman’s mind. Sounds familiar? Yes.

Also Sunny picks girls who have spunk, who have guts and are ‘nakchadi’ in his eyes. So, the bottom line is girls/women fear when you step out of line. In all of this he doesn’t like the fearlessness and command that even Roy has. He manages to get inside her house, which again creeps me out, robs some of her belongings, including her saree, which he uses to kill a journalist, for whom he had taken a supari to send a message to Roy.

As a supari killer Sunny is given the task of killing a woman political candidate. It is chilling the way her male opponent coldly gives the supari without caring what happens to her. I kept wondering if politics is such a dirty game.

Something that could have been changed

The title Mardaani, which basically means ‘fearless as a man’. I would like to ask aren’t women fearless? Wasn’t Roy as a woman police officer fearless? I think Bollywood should take note and not promote this gender bias time and again.

Roy’s senior tells her that we still live in a society that thinks even if a woman is allowed to work and take up positions as men, she should still be within boundaries set by the society. She should appease the ego of a man basically.

What I liked

As mentioned before, the length of the film and the tight and gripping storyline is something that I liked. The fact that there is no sob story about the antagonist, he is an unapologetically ruthless villain, is another plus.The film boasts outstanding performances by  Rani Mukerji and Vishal Jethwa. Applause for Jethwa for truly making me hate Sunny and for holding his own against a seasoned actor like Mukerji. So, much so that there was a sense of ‘satisfaction’ when we see Roy thrashing Sunny when she finally gets him. Yes, last but not the least for highlighting the misogyny and gender bias of our society and for championing the cause of women who step out to make a mark in society.

Last word

We would all like such quick action against a rapist, as Roy does in the movie, or an idealist way to met out justice, also like the alleged Hyderabad police encounter killing of the rapists. But in reality we have to give our justice system a chance. Thankfully, that’s what one can assume happened at the end of the film. But I applaud mainstream Bollywood for bringing out such a relevant issue and how it is dealt with. Do watch it, although I don’t know what will haunt you more, the film or the recent news clips!

The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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