Director: Ravi Udyawar
Cast: Sridevi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna, Sajal Ali, Adnan Siddiqui
Running time: 146 minutes
There are some actors you miss even when you are watching their films. In those scenes featuring other actors. And when their scenes are playing, you wish those scenes could go on forever. Just like their films. Just like their careers. Sridevi in Mom gives you that feeling. One more time.
In a mother of a performance, Sridevi plays a woman who is universal and unique at the same time. Universal in the way she feels about her family and is protective about her daughters. And unique in the way she decides to take matters in her own hands when everyone and everything else around her fail to get her justice.
We have seen this story before on screen. Quite a few times in the recent past. The story of our times in Nirbhaya country. Of a young girl partying in a farmhouse near Delhi with her friends and then being kidnapped and gang raped. And the criminals getting away scot-free thanks to corruption at every level.
But what makes the first act of Mom a little more caustic is the fact that Devaki (Sridevi) is stepmom to Arya (Sajal Ali), who calls her Ma’am because she is also her teacher in school. Plus, the 18-year-old doesn’t quite accept Ma’am to be part of her family. Despite her best efforts. And of the four who abducted and raped Arya, one was her classmate, also a student of Devaki Ma’am.
So when the bad guys make the mistake of screaming, “Ab bula apni Maa ko”, when they are tormenting the girl in the car, you know immediately that this case is not going to be solved in a court room.
The face of the law is Matthew Francis (Akshaye Khanna), a sharp Crime Branch officer who mostly plays by the book. And since the atmosphere is relentlessly tense almost throughout, to give the film its rare light moments there’s DK aka Dayashankar Kapoor (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a quirky private detective of Daryaganj, who’s a father to a teenage daughter himself and who decides to help the Mom in her cause.
The first half is all build-up and the second half is when Mom becomes Supermom. And while the last hour does go over the top in quite a few scenes and some times asks logic to wait outside, it is also deeply satisfying. And with Sridevi helming the roaring rampage of revenge, it’s impossible not to stay invested. The last scene is a little too much like Se7en but one should give that benefit of doubt to first-time filmmaker Ravi Udyawar who really impresses with his storytelling and craft.
If Sridevi is outstanding as the lingering portrait of a helpless mother who cuts loose, both Akshaye and Nawaz are excellent. They wisely play around the Sridevi performance as these much-needed punctuation marks completing a bravura sentence of justice. The surprise act of the film, though, is Adnan Siddiqui who is terrific as the Dad. The girl Sajal looks and expresses a little too much like a young Kareena Kapoor but that can’t be a bad thing, can it?
Cinematographer Anay Goswami is the other hero of the film shooting Mom with a hypnotic play of light and shade, using the colour red as a leitmotif. A.R. Rahman’s background score is way more effective than his songs.
Just 300 films old and the Sridevi magic is as strong as ever. How one wishes she did more films and more writer-directors wrote scripts around her. You don’t miss this badass celebration of motherhood. After all, a Mom can do anything. And her job is never done.
Pratim D. Gupta