Mumbai, 07 Jul 2017 11:51 IST
Updated: 09 Jul 2017 23:24 IST
Ravi Udyawar sensitively navigates an intense thriller with a solid emotional core.
Earlier this year we saw Raveena Tandon-starrer Maatr, a film about a mother avenging the rape of her daughter. Ravi Udyawar's Mom explores the same subject albeit with a strained mother-daughter relationship at its core.
Devaki (Sridevi) is a biology teacher whose stepdaughter Arya (Sajal Ali) studies in her class. The 18-year-old Arya is still dealing with her mother's death and finding it difficult to accept her new mum, with whom she has to now share her father Anand (Adnan Siddiqui).
A criminal act puts Arya in a state of trauma and her parents in a state of despair, creating a possibly irreparable dent in the already strained mother-daughter relationship. After the perpetrators of the crime walk away scot free owing to the lack of sufficient evidence, Sridevi takes it upon herself to bring justice to her stepdaughter and attempt to repair her scarred life. Dayanand Shankar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) steps in as a mysterious well-wisher and Akshaye Khanna enters the proceedings as an investigating officer.
The complex stepmother-stepdaughter relationship and the family dynamic are handled with sensitivity. The screenplay could have gone horribly wrong if not for the mature writing by Ravi Udyawar, Kona Venkat and Girish Kohli.
Sridevi adds heft to the film with a compelling performance as a mother whose heart aches for the love of her daughter as she shuffles between despair and determination. In one scene where she enters the hospital to see her daughter fighting for her life on the bed, Sridevi brings you to tears. It's a brilliantly written scene, too, as the emotions speak wordlessly.
In another scene, where she is informed by the doctor of what befell Arya, Sridevi completely lets herself go and breaks down. Though her face looks too taut for her age, she flexes her acting muscle to make you root for her character.
As if one brilliant performance wasn't enough, you get the man with sparkling screen presence — Nawazuddin Siddiqui — at his best. With his ever dependable magical ease, he brings a much needed lightness and humour to the proceedings.
Sajal Ali brings to life the vulnerabilies, insecurities and trauma of a character dealing with a heinous crime with great maturity.
Khanna and Adnan Siddiqui play their parts with sincerity.
While the emotional core is solid, Mom has its flaws when it comes to the thriller elements. For example, where are the young perpetrator's parents when he is in jail? Also, though the poetic justice at the end completes the story you wonder if it could have been handled better.
The background score by AR Rahman gets too jarring at times and distracts from the proceedings, especially in the climax. Also, after an intense first half, the thrilling plot points in the second half see the director's grip loosening. The climax gets too Cape Fear-ish for its own good.
Though a first-timer, Udyawar is definitely a skilled director. The composition of some of the scenes is brilliant. The aerial shot of the car as it navigates the secluded streets of Delhi with a young girl being raped inside is chilling. A shot of Sridevi filling bottles at the filter with her back to the camera as the water overflows is symbolic of her despair.
Mom triumphs where Maatr failed as it relies more on the intensity and realism of its emotional core than going the drama and action way. It is not without flaws but remains an intense, thrilling and emotional film powered by two very fine performers — Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sridevi.