Friday, 7 July 2017

MOM review: Vintage Sridevi steals the show!

Cast: Sridevi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna, Sajal Ali, Adnan Siddiqui, Abhimanyu Singh
Direction: Ravi Udyawar
Rating: ***1/2
‘MOM’ is a taut thriller that makes for an engrossing watch. Ravi Udyawar’s film boasts of a strong script and compelling performances, but is let down by a run-of-the-mill climax.
This is an intriguing tale of how a brutal assault affects the family and, specifically, the mother. You discover right at the onset that Sridevi doesn’t have an easy equation with her adolescent daughter. When tragedy hits and the family fails to get justice, it feels like Sridevi is not just seeking revenge, but almost looking for redemption for an ordeal she isn’t even responsible for.
It is indeed amazing to witness the mother’s transformation from a simple Biology teacher to a shrewd criminal mind. In her 300th film, Sridevi exhibits her craft with flourish – her versatility as an actress is at display. You see her broken and vulnerable one moment, vindictive and ruthless the next.
The veteran actor was once the best in the business and even in her 50th year in the industry, she commands exemplary screen presence. You flinch with her when she is in pain and you want to see the perpetrators perish when she is devising their end.
Sajal Ali plays the daughter with aplomb. It is heartbreaking to see a feisty, rebellious girl transform into this subdued person with a vacant look in her eyes. The movie lays bare the disturbing truth that young girls in our cities are essentially defenseless.
Yet again, the classy Nawazuddin Siddiqui bolsters the second half. His is an understated performance and yet its look and portrayal stays with you much after you have left the theatre. When you first see Nawazuddin on screen, you are not entirely sure of his leanings – should you even trust this character? There seems to be something inherently shifty about him, but as the plot progresses he comes across, rather naturally, as the most dependable alibi.
Akshaye Khanna is back on the big screen with a meaty part. While he is effortless as the tough cop, his character arch isn’t as well defined as the others’. To be frank, I found his volte-face a little difficult to comprehend.
I am sure there will be questions about vigilantism as an alternative recourse to seek justice. But what are the options really at hand when you are let down by the system despite incriminating evidence against the perpetrators of a heinous crime?
Well, that’s for the audience to decide.
Like I said, I would have preferred a more seminal end for such an engaging story. Still, the film is immensely more watchable (in comparison) to the past few Bollywood thrillers such as Bejoy Nambiar’s ‘Wazir’ or even Sujoy Ghosh’s ‘Kahaani 2’.
Watch ‘MOM’, not only for the edge-of-the-seat drama, but to witness a stellar act by Sridevi.

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