Cast – Sridevi, Adnan Siddiqui, Sajal Ali, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna
Directed by – Ravi Udyawar
Produced by – Boney Kapoor, Sunil Manchanda, Naresh Agarwal, Mukesh Talreja, Gautam Jain
Screenplay by – Girish Kohli
Story by – Ravi Udyawar, Girish Kohli, Kona Venkat Rao
Music by – A. R. Rahman
Cinematography – Anay Goswamy
Edited by – Monisha R. Baldawa
Production House – MAD Films, Third Eye Pictures
Each week we watch movies and review them. Fascinating as it sounds, the job is a dull one. If you’re an avid Bollywood watcher, you will certainly know that of the 350+ movies that hit the screens each year there are hardly a handful of hits. It is, however, once in a very long while, that one comes across a film like Mom – a film that leaves us speechless and stunned. Mom is the perfect reminder of why cinema is such a potent medium to channel the strongest of emotions, the epitope of art, passion, and storytelling. Sridevi, the eternal diva of tinsel town waited 5 years (after English Vinglish) to star in a Hindi film and the years were not wasted. They were spent honing her skills for precision and perfection.
The ‘Mom’ Genre
Ever since the Nirbhaya incident, the distressing reality of gang rape in the country (in the capital city in particular) is something we are faced with quite often. There are the rape and revenge genre of movies which either end up in gory violence or with undue lessons in morality. And then there is this new genre we are now going to call ‘Mom’.
We lead dizzyingly fast, increasingly metrosexual, largely defiant lives – lives where remarriage and step parenting are no longer taboo, when 18 year olds are “permitted” by parents to attend rave parties on Valentine’s Day, where pre-marital investigation is the norm rather than the exception, and where law enforcement (read police) and law are no longer capable of protecting us or upholding justice.
What we forget, however, in this puzzling existence is that beneath the facade of change and progressiveness – we are still the same. A mother hankering for acceptance by her step daughter, a young girl struggling to make sense of a gruesome assault, a father struggling to keep his family together, a small time detective who offers unsolicited help because he also has a beautiful daughter, a policeman who is pushed to a point that he does not mind looking away – rather simple, clichéd tales of human existence. What is different then, you may ask.
What makes Mom a classic is debutant director Ravi Udyawar stitching together these elements in a riveting film that keeps you transfixed for 2 hours and 26 minutes straight. What is different is A R Rahman’s chilling background score that leaves you terrified despite the lack of visuals even in a gang rape scene. What is different is the sensitivity with which the tiniest aspects of the film have been treated – from transgender woes to crime infested jails.
The story is a simple one – Devki Sabharwal (Sridevi) is married to Anand (Adnan Siddiqui) but his daughter from an earlier marriage, Arya (Sajal Ali) still has trouble accepting her as her mom. Arya is the victim of a gang rape but is failed justice by the legal system despite the best efforts of Crime Branch cop Matthew Francis (Akshaye Khanna). It is then that Devki decides to seek the help of a small time Daryagunj investigator DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) to extract revenge.
Technically A Class Apart
If there is one person who had proved his brilliance with Mom, that has to be Anay Goswamy. The compelling visuals, the play of light and shadow, and the superb lensing is superlative. Udawar’s ‘no nonsense’ approach cuts out much of what makes Hindi films dull. No lengthy dialogues, no long chases, no long legal scenes, no song and dance approach. The beautiful numbers composed by Rahman blend in with the action and add to the film’s beauty.
Sridevi’s phenomenal histrionics need no introduction but in Mom she is a class apart. Her controlled compelling portrayal is only outdone by Sajal Ali. As the disgruntled daughter, as an assault victim found in a ditch, as a woman trying to physically and emotionally recover from the unthinkable, the actress manages to steal Sridevi’s thunder. Akshay Khanna’s role doesn’t have much to offer but Nawazuddin Siddiqui is perfect in a small but juicy role.
No matter how packed your schedule looks, Mom is a must watch. It is rarely that Bollywood comes up with such near perfect films.
Our Rating ****