A maniac looks right at you, breaking the Fourth wall, as you settle into your comfortable seats in the cinema hall and boasts of his sexual hunger as he devouringly looks at a girl in the exhibition and devices a plan to abduct her. This direction choice injects all kinds of wrong things into you, as the comfortable seat has grown thornes of guilt to be living in the society where this horrendous crime happens. The rapist looks into your eye and tells you the horror he is going to unleash and you sit helplessly in your self loathe, as a society.
Mardaani 2 sees the return of Shivani Shivaji Roy, the SP who put a thunderous end to Child trafficking in the previous film. Her valour and sense of responsibility are untarnished as, in her very first scene, she gives a dressing-down to a police officer who specializes in character certification of women. Rani Mukerji is as sincere with her character as Shivani Shivaji Roy is with her duty as a Superintendent of Police. She delivers a solid performance but in an attempt to match the pitch of the film, she plays to the gallery and it is in these scenes that the performance is devoid of the otherwise natural anger that is simmering underneath. In Mardaani 2 she finds a nemesis who would for a moment, undermine the horror of the criminal from the first installment. The criminal here, is a serial rapist and killer. His crimes are not out of an unjustified urge for something but are a result of a pre-planned perpetration.
Writer-Director Gopi does not attempt to push boundaries and finds comfort in generic arguments that choose a television interview as a medium. Rani Mukerji in this interview scene makes many valid points but there is a cloud of sameness around it, the writing does not intend to break this cloud of superficiality and delve into the complexities of these societal conundrums. The inevitability of a scene like this, where an entire nation watches an emotional speech in TV and sheds tears of hurt and inspiration, spoils the taste of a taut thriller this film sets out to be. The tension in the second half is considerably less as the messaging melodrama takes over, diluting the essence of this cat and mouse chase.
In the context of the screenplay, the criminal is unsettling, yet generic. He’s one of those fantastic psychopaths whom you usually see in popcorn thriller movies. He reeks havoc on your senses but fails to create a living breathing monster, whose omnipresence creeps you out constantly. You shift in your seat as he breaks the 4th wall and looks into your eye before executing another henious crime it is only for that moment you feel the horror in your bones. However, a character that is generic on a screenplay level gets interesting when you try to analyze what the director was trying to communicate with the ever-changing attires of the maniac. We see, Sunny, the psychopath wear a Burqa at one point, a saffron shawl at another, becomes a chai wala at a point, a woman in a saree. These changing attires could be construed as the director’s way of communicating to us that this is not one monster we are looking at. He does not have a face. He is, but a culmination of human catastrophes in the society.
Mardaani 2 follows, pretty much the same screenplay points as the first one. A steadfast police officer being challenged by a young male criminal. The showing off of their smartness ensues a cat and mouse chase that was far more affective in the first film. The unbelievability of some of the sequences in this installment, stifle the thrill the first half builds. Gopi manages to make a decent thriller with heavy-handed messaging which one has come to expect in every other movie. Scripts, these days, reek of familiarity to an extent that a common moviegoer could layout the screenplay of the entire second half of a film, despite being one such script, Mardaani 2 manages to keep you invested in the proceedings and leaves you satisfied.