Zee Studios, BSK Movies, and Entertainment, MAD Films & Third Eye Pictures present: “Mom”
Produced by: Boney Kapoor, Sunil Manchanda, Naresh Agarwal, Mukesh Talreja & Gautam Jain
Directed by: Ravi Udyawar
Written by: Ravi Udyawar, Girish Kohli & Kona Venkat Rao
Music: A.R. Rahman
Cinematography: Anay Goswami
Film Editing: Monisha R Baldawa
Starring: Sridevi, Akshaye Khanna, Adnan Siddiqui, Sajal Ali, Riva Arora, Akash Dahiya, Pitobash Tripathi, Abhimanyu Singh & others Sp. App.: Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Schoolteacher Devaki (Sridevi) is the second wife of Anand (Adnan Siddiqui). They have two daughters, Arya (Sajal Ali) from Anand’s previous marriage and Piyu (Riva Arora). Arya accepts Piyu, but Devki will always remain ‘Mam’ (Ma’am) for her as she is also her teacher in school. Arya dreams of a nice vacation in the hills, while Devki desires that Arya accepts her and call her ‘Mom’ and not ‘Mam.’
When Arya stubbornly insists on going to a party and is raped by classmate Mohit and his brother and two friends, Anand is abroad. The court case absolves the criminals despite Arya’s testimony, and as in “Maatr” (which means the same as ‘Mom’!) some months ago, stepmom steps in to destroy the men who “dared to touch” her daughter; one of them even told her at the time of that heinous act, “Now call your mom!”
Classmate Mohit, of course, has been earlier punished by Mam when he sends Arya a lewd message in class. He is infatuated with her, wants her to reciprocate at least at the party, but both he and his elder brother (Akash Dahiya) too get humiliated, and so the punishment to Arya. Though we do not know the actor who plays Mohit, his casting is bang-on!
The criminals are intelligently punished by Mam/Mom, and her help is private eye DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who brings her information on all of them. Cop Matthew Francis (Akshaye Khanna) smells a rat when the first accused Baburam (Pitobash) is castrated by Devaki (with help from two eunuchs whom she has helped get settled in life) and dies.
But he suspects Anand, who has hit one of the suspects after their acquittal in the court itself. Devaki then paralyzes Mohit’s elder brother with cyanide and cleverly puts the blame on Mohit by planting varied evidence, and he is arrested. She even visits Mohit’s brother in hospital and tells him who she is.
Finally, Matthew homes in on her through a chance discovery. He keeps tabs on DK, and when DK is shot dead by the remaining criminal (Abhimanyu Singh)who also discovers his association with Devaki by chance. Matthew goes after the family to the hill-station (where they have finally gone on Arya’s dream vacation) as the criminal is after Devaki and Arya.
In the outdoor climax, Matthew has a change of heart, and so does Arya, who addresses Mam for the first time as Mom.
The plus side is that the film is made with a lot of pace and grip, and thankfully minus any technical frills or gimmicks. Anay Goswami’s camerawork is superb, especially in creating the right moods. Sridevi is note-perfect: here is an actress who moves with the times in choice of roles as well as performances.
She is outstanding in her sequence where she sees Arya for the first time in the hospital and is told the horrific truth by the doctor, she is superb when she meets the villain in the hospital, and in her earlier expressions as she tries to break the barriers between Arya and herself. Adnan Siddiqui as her husband impresses with his restrained turn in a uni-dimensional role. Sajal Ali is excellent as the spoilt and hostile daughter and very effective after her trauma as well.
Khanna as Matthew is someone who again excels as a detective after “36 China Town,” despite changing nothing essentially in his performance, body language or mannerisms. Nawazuddin Siddiqui keeps his voice same despite trying to be different, and only his get-up makes him a distinct character. The man is being typecast as his role has to have a comic/amusing/satirical touch, but his expressions during his interaction with his daughter at home are well-done. Overall, he manages to steal many a show. The villains do well, especially Singh as the menacing mastermind and Dahiya as the paralyzed brother trying to point at Devaki without being able to speak a word.
A.R. Rahman’s music is functional, but his background score is exemplary – a textbook on how to create such a score in today’s times. The ominous and foreboding sound of the music during the entire rape sequence (from the time the atrocity is planned) to the time when Mom rushes to the hospital, is especially brilliant, as is his score during the climax.
Now for the plot-holes that bring down the level of the film: first and foremost, the simplistic way in which the criminals get off for lack of solid evidence is far from convincing for 2017: such things happened, despite the recorded video testimony shown of the victim, in times when the law was not so strong and pro-victim for such offences.
Two: the way Mom designs the destruction of the two brothers is almost like a fairytale. Though she teaches Biology (and we presume this is a Delhi junior college as Arya is 18!), we do not know how she is such an expert in Toxicology! Also, such teachers do not have the freedom to throw mobile phones out of the window in a civilized school, even of errant students.
Finally, it is a bit too much of stretching logic that a private eye like DK, living in a humble home and not being too busy still has a hi-tech micro-recording gadget attached to his spectacle frame!
Director Udyawar, however, gets the Delhi culture spot-on, and the overall audience gratification by the twist in Matthew’s character, in the end, is convincing and brings up the level of the movie. We can expect a hit at least here. And it is seemingly ages since we had a good film, especially in the crime genre.