The Nirbhaya gang rape case of 2012 in Delhi shocked one and all across the country. What added to the astonishment was that one of the violent assaulters was a minor. It generated a debate on whether juveniles can be treated like an adult in cases where the crime committed is exceptional and of an extremely violent nature. Yash Raj Films’ latest offing, MARDAANI 2, also deals with this burning topic and coincidentally, comes around two weeks after a similar violent gang rape committed in Hyderabad sparked nationwide outrage. So does MARDAANI 2 manage to shock as well as thrill the audiences? Or does it fail to keep the viewers engaged? Let’s analyse.
MARDAANI 2 is the story of a psychotic rapist trying to challenge the police. Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) is now the SP of Kota, Rajasthan. In this town, a girl named Latika (Tejaswi Singh Ahlawat) attends a fair where she fights with her boyfriend Monty (Pratyaksh Rajbhatt). A mysterious person, Sunny (Vishal Jethwa), witnesses the way Latika blasts Monty. He has an issue with such outspoken women and on an empty stretch, he abducts her. He takes her to an abandoned place where he brutally tortures Latika, rapes and then kills her. Shivani is shocked with the violence but carries out the investigation immediately. At the press conference, she calls the murderer 'dedh shaana'. This hurts Sunny and he decides to teach Shivani a lesson. He sends her flowers with a taunting note. He sneaks into her house and steals her clothes and accessories. He wears her saree to trap a journalist Kamal Parihar (Anurag Sharma) and eliminates him, as part of the contract given to him by a local politician Panditji (Prasanna Ketkar). Sunny then smartly gets employed in the tea stall outside Shivaji’s police station. Hence he gets access to visiting the police station and even eavesdropping what the cops are talking about the case. When a kid, who had seen Sunny, comes forward to identify him, Sunny kidnaps him from the police station toilet and kills him. Shivani hence faces backlash for what is termed as a lapse on her part. She is transferred. But as everyone is busy with Diwali celebrations, the replacement is expected to take charge only 2 days later. Hence Shivani has 48 hours to crack the case and nab Sunny. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Gopi Puthran's story is excellent and serves as a worthy sequel to the first part. It also makes a nice comment on misogyny. Gopi Puthran's screenplay is highly effective and also entertaining. The way he has thought of novel ways to show the villain's sharp mind is seen to be believed. He could have avoided a few cinematic liberties in the second half though. Gopi Puthran's dialogues are acidic and work very well. Rani Mukerji's monologue during her TV interview is applause worthy.
MARDAANI 2 is just 105 minutes long and doesn’t waste time. The villain gets introduced in the beginning itself and the way he smartly traps Latika and then violates her shocks you. The astonishment continues as Sunny manages to kill Kamal Parihar as well and passes it off as suicide. The sequence where he abducts the child also keeps the thrill going. Post interval, one expects the film to drag but a surprise awaits here as Shivani finds Sunny minutes after second half commences. And it’s after this scene that the film drops a bit. The cat and mouse chase becomes a bit repetitive. Also after a point it becomes unconvincing the way Sunny is always able to outsmart Shivani and has thought ten steps ahead. The climax however is massy and viewers would surely break into applause.
MARDAANI 2 belongs to Rani Mukerji and Vishal Jethwa. Rani yet again delivers a terrific performance as Shivani Shivaji Roy. It’s great to see how she understands her part so well. She is tough but she also has a sensitive side, as seen during her conversation with the forensic doctor and also in the very final scene. But both the characteristics look very organic and nothing seems forced. She also gets the action scenes right. Vishal Jethwa rocks the show and how! He impresses from the first scene itself when he breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to viewers. Surprisingly, he gets more screen time than Rani in the first half! Throughout the film, he gets the menacing bit perfectly. Tejaswi Singh Ahlawat is decent while Deepika Amin is fine in a special appearance. Other actors who do a fine job are Pratyaksh Rajbhatt, Prasanna Ketkar, Shruti Bapna (Bharti), Sumit Nijhawan (Brij Shekhawat), Sunny Hinduja (Viplaw Beniwal) and Richa Meena (Sunanda). Rajesh Sharma (Amit Sharma) is quite good as the reporter and his scene with Rani is one of the highpoints of the film.
Mardaani 2 is a songless film. John Stewart Eduri's background music is loud but exhilarating. Jishnu Bhattacharjee's cinematography is quite neat and captures the small town feel to an extent. Sukant Panigrahy's production design is passable. Leepakshi Ellawadi's costumes are realistic. Vikram Dahiya's action is realistic. Shanoo Sharma's casting is spot on. Monisha R Baldawa's editing is uncomplicated.
On the whole, MARDAANI 2 is a gripping thriller that boasts of an exciting script and bravura performances by Rani Mukerji and Vishal Jethwa. At the box office however, it will need a strong word of mouth to sustain.
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