Stop or mom will shoot
The bliss of a biology teacher’s family life in Delhi is shattered when her daughter, Arya (Sajal Ali) is physically assaulted by Jagan (Abhimanyu Singh) and gang. Does Devki Sabarwal (Sridevi) wait for the law to take its course? Or does Devki become Maa Durga and hunt down the perpetrators of the crime?
Mom reminds you for the umpteenth time that we’re in Nirbhaya country. Like other films on the same subject, debutant Ravi Udyawar’s emotional thriller tells you that India, or should that be New Delhi specifically, isn’t safe enough for women, especially young girls. And its relevance makes it an important watch.
There’s a lot packed in here. To begin with, the film dwells on the dynamics of a teenager’s standoffish relationship with her stepmom. This entire track is beautifully handled. Then again, it is post the teenager’s abduction and assault when the film reveals its true facet. To say anything more on the actual plot is to risk spoiling its surprises.
Instead, it would suffice to say that when the avenging mother is joined by an inconsequential-looking private detective, DK (Nawazuddin), the screen ride becomes edgier and more exciting. There’s also a tough-as-nails cop, Francis (Akshaye), who stays close on the heels of the vigilantes, adding gusto to proceedings. At times, there is that sense of deja vu that you experience because most parents-looking-for-a-missing-teen movies follow certain set devices. But this one still manages to stay ahead with some interesting twists and turns. However, it is in the graph and the strength of Sridevi’s character wherein the victory of this script lies.
In her 300th landmark movie (coincidentally produced by her husband Boney Kapoor) Sri demonstrates why she is the high-priestess of desi cinema. Here she turns in a captivating performance; happiness, helplessness, vendetta and victory, she walks you through the entire gamut of emotions with panache. Supporting her ably is her onscreen husband Anand (Adnan), who plays the polished gent with flair. Nawazuddin, with his quirks and one-liners, turns in a class act and Akshaye Khanna, who is in terrific form here, forces you to ponder why he takes such long matinee breaks.
Dew fresh Sajal Ali, who seems to have grown up watching Kareena Kapoor films, seems like a clone of the senior actor. But this is not to take away from her otherwise adept performance. A R Rahman’s background score adds the required chills without distracting and Anay Goswamy’s camera lingers as lovingly on the actors’ faces as it does on the snow-capped peaks.
Mothers are a symbol of strength; this movie further reinforces that.