Banners: Anjum Rizvi Film Co, Manoj Adhikari Production, Pugmark Films
Producers: Anjum Rizvi, Manoj Adhikari, Innama Sayed
Director: Ashtar Sayed
Cast: Raveena Tandon, Alisha Khan, Madhur Mittal, Anurag Arora, Rushad Rana
Writers: Michael Pellico, Mishka Singh (dialogue)
Maatr is the kind of title that leaves little doubt about the theme of the film. But to make a film with the lead protagonist in an action avatar, it takes courage and calls for extreme clarity, especially when the protagonist is an actress who is returning to the silver screen after a very long time.
The film is raw and edgy and is technically excellent, with action that is brilliantly executed by Raveena Tandon. Credible acting by an ensemble cast and swift screenplay wraps the film in 113 minutes.
As for flaws… the pace drops post-interval and there are a few loopholes in the narrative. Transcending these is a film that is a must-watch solely for Tandon, who plays her part exceptionally well.
Set in Delhi, a city infamously known for its alarming number of rape cases, the story revolves around a school teacher, Vidya Chauhan (Raveena Tandon). Her marriage is sinking and she stays with her husband only for their daughter, Tia’s sake. After getting late at Tia’s annual function, Vidya drives home with her daughter. To avoid a traffic jam, she takes a different route and is hit by a car that’s been following her, rendering both mother and daughter unconscious.
Vidya and her daughter are dragged to a farm house and are both raped by a gang of boys led by Apurva Malik (Madhur Mittal), son of the chief minister. They are then tossed by the road side, presumably dead. While Tia passes away, Vidya manages to survive. When Vidya’s husband blames her for the tragedy, she finally separates from him.
The officer on the case, Shroff (Anurag Arora) tries his best to close the matter after Vidya reveals in her statement that the culprits were the CM’s son and his friends. After losing faith in the law, Vidya starts to plot revenge. How the film unfolds forms the crux of the story.
Debutant director Ashtar Sayed helms the film with the gusto required to execute a genre like Maatr. Unfortunately, the character sketches are inadequate and are reduced to caricatures. Having said that, kudos for the way Sayed has handled the few dramatic moments in the film. There are lulls in the screenplay, especially in the second half, but you tend to excuse them as the main subject is very strong.
Editing by Manoj Magar is top notch. Cinematography by Hari Vendantam is another asset. Of course, it’s the action sequences that steal the show, especially when you have a fantastic actress like Tandon back on the silver screen.
On the whole, the film impresses but it disappoints in places due to the naivety in its narrative. For instance, Vidya, a school teacher, plans to kill the culprits by making their death look like an accident but her attempts obviously look amateurish. Also, the newsreader reveals the names of the victims, a cardinal in journalism. Dialogue is good in places.
Performance-wise, Raveena Tandon is phenomenal in her part. She delivers a poignant act. She is poised, she is impudent, she is emotional, and she is raw, all in the right measure for her character. Alisha Khan plays her part well. Madhur Mittal is confident and impresses with a grittiness wrapped in a certain ease in his role. Anurag Arora plays his character in right earnest. Rushad Rana is good. The rest of the cast support adequately.
Verdict: Worth a watch!