Actors: Rani Mukerji, Vishal Jethwa, Rajesh Sharma
Directed by Gopi Puthran
Mardaani 2 doesn't waste time getting straight to the point. For the first few minutes, a young man with a monster mask (or the other way around, you might say) commits a crime that is so hideous that your skin crawls and absorbs only the extent of its depravity. The no-frills cop Shivani Shivaji Roy, played by Rani Mukerji, is tasked with finding the perpetrator.
In a crisp 105 minutes, screenwriter and director Gopi Puthran stages an elaborate cat and mouse hunt that is both exciting and often not convincing. Sunny, whom young Shivani is chasing, is a serial rapist and murderer, whose incredible misogyny and propensity for brutal violence, as we later learn, is rooted in his own dark past. Vishal Jethwa plays Sunny as a sadistic, carefree villain who wants to put women in her place and repeatedly reminds her not to rise above her "Aukaat".
As in the 2014 Mardaani, Shivani relies on her stomach, experience, and intelligence to figure out the villain's movements and the way he thinks. In this film, she competed against a child dealer and Tahir Bhasin played him as educated, smooth and cunning. The villain here is much younger and blinded by hate. Somehow, Shivani's gut seems to pervade the minds of all men.
The film is undoubtedly intended as a wish-fulfillment fantasy. It is a mirror of our time when crimes against women are an unfortunate reality. Shivani shows the justice on the canvas that has proven difficult in real life. I'll leave it up to you to decide how to deal with this message – it's complicated.
Ultimately, Mardaani 2 benefits from the strong performances of Rani Mukerji and her young co-star Vishal Jethwa. It is brisk, briskly recorded and plays in the gallery. I go with three out of five.
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