Mardaani 2
Mukerji plays Superintendent of Police Shivani Shivaji Roy in 'Mardaani 2' Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

Film: Mardaani 2
Director: Gopi Puthran
Cast: Rani Mukerji and Vishal Jethwa
Stars: 3 out of 5

The plot:

A procedural thriller about a savage juvenile rapist — whose impunity in court is obvious due to him being underage — can touch a raw nerve.

Director Gopi Puthran’s cop drama Mardaani 2, which marks the return of actor Rani Mukerji as a feisty cop Shivani Shivaji Roy, pulls at that thread effectively. There’s a serial killer, who loves to show off his kills and is narcissistic to the core, on the loose in Kota in Rajasthan and it is up to Roy to hunt him down before he unleashes more terror in that student capital. Young spunky women are his targets and bestiality is his modus operandi.

What we liked about it:

The acting is collectively splendid. Mukerji as a tough police woman is a treat to watch. But it’s the cold-blooded villain that held more intrigue. TV actor Vishal Jethwa is lethal as the serial rapist with a violent, troubled past. Watching him spar and challenge the cops at every turn makes it an engaging watch. It’s clinical and procedural for most parts and there are no songs to fracture the disturbing narrative. The treatment is grave and you know that Shivani Roy will obliterate this underage sexual offender in no time, but it’s wicked to see her indulge in a cat-and-mouse game.

Mukerji is a firebrand on the big screen and she never lets us forget it. She’s confident, cocky and convincing in her turn as Shivani Roy.

What we did not like:

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Rani Mukerji in 'Mardaani'. Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

How does an underage criminal be so crafty that he can penetrate a police station and go unnoticed? How can he get away with multiple murders right under the nose of a school of good cops? These are questions that you may not find answers to in Mardaani 2. If Shivani Roy is a super cop, who won’t rest until she snuffs out the villains, her detractors are super villains here. Jethwa as the cold-blooded serial killer is given a lot of agency in this film.

There’s also a propensity by the director to go down the women empowerment route. Scenes of Mukerji launching a monologue on women’s rights can seem a bore, especially when there’s a serial killer preying on a young girl out there. Although there are no songs, there’s a tendency to glorify every move of Mukerji. She isn’t harried or overwhelmed, despite the serial killer dominating the game from the word go.

The verdict:

While Mardaani, the original that introduced us to Shivani Roya’s quest to flush out a child trafficking kingpin, was real, searing and raw. While Mardaani 2 may seem contrived with Roy drumming up pop-feminism at every turn, there’s enough suspense to keep us engaged. If a movie is as good as its villain, the world should sit up and take notice of Jethwa. His unhindered killings may raise a brow, but he chills our spine with his unhinged, barbaric act. Mardaani 2 is suitably sobering, but you cannot take your eyes away from it.