In Mehul Kumar’s Jaago (2004), Raveena Tandon played a mother whose daughter is raped and murdered. Her daughter’s character in Ashtar Sayed’s Maatr goes through the same trauma. Her character kills one perpetrator at half time in the 2004 film. She does the same in Maatr at interval point.
In this film, however, Tandon’s character also becomes a victim of the sexual crime. But a more notable dissimilarity between both the films is that despite being unconvincing, Jaago wasn’t so unintentionally hilarious.
As per the title, Maatr is the story of a mother, Vidya Chauhan (Tandon). She teaches in a school and lives with her husband (Rushad Rana) and daughter, Tia (Alisha Khan) in Delhi. Vidya’s best friend, Ritu (Divya Jagdale) is like another family member. Tia wins the first prize for her presentation at her school’s annual day function. When the mother and daughter are returning home, they encounter a group of hooligans. They gangrape both of them. Vidya survives, but Tia doesn’t.
The culprits are led by Apurva Malik (Madhur Mittal). He is the spoilt and ruthless son of the chief minister of Delhi. When Vidya identifies Apurva as the leader of the gang, the authorities try covering up the matter by arresting three unknown persons. With the law books in Apurva’s pockets, Vidya will have to fight her battle alone.
Maatr fails to make a mark in key areas. Firstly, the all-important plot point of two rapes and one murder doesn’t appear convincing. But more importantly, the reaction of Vidya’s husband and best friend is highly questionable. They aren’t shocked or shattered by the ghastly incident. Such callousness is storytelling doesn’t keep you interested.
But revenge dramas have the scope of taking the narrative to a higher level and making the film more interesting later on. So, you tend to give another chance to the film due to Tandon’s transformation at the interval point. But strangely, after a point of time, the narrative stoops from unconvincing to mindless. In fact, the level of logic in the last 15 minutes is shocking to say the least. You end up laughing unintentionally whereas the subject should have made your blood boil.
A lack of depth to the main characters affects the storytelling in Maatr. We are not given any background about Tandon and her daughter’s characters and their bonding. Hence, we hardly feel bad for them simply because we don’t know them well. However, Tandon successfully displays her inner turmoil through expressions and body language. She shows some traces of her work in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Satta (2003).
Madhur Mittal (of Slumdog Millionaire fame) is affected the most due to poor characterisation. His character of a villain is just reduced to a caricature. Although he tries his best, the content doesn’t allow him to rise much. The same goes for Rushad Rana. We know hardly anything about him and his change of mind at one point appears unusual.
Divya Jagdale and Jayant Shroff have better scope and they make good use of it. Shailendra Goel and Alisha Khan don’t have much to do.
The film has just one theme song, ‘Zindagi Aye Zindagi,’ which is well rendered by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. It suits the subject and the condition of the protagonist. The technical aspects of the film are nothing to write home about.
The only thing working for Maatr is the fast pace and short length. But this is certainly not enough to overshadow the high number of fallacies.
Reviewed by Keyur Seta