I am penning a few thoughts after watching Sridevi’s 300th film-Mom, which released yesterday: 07-07-2017. Fifty years back, it was on 07-07-1967 that her first film Kandan Karunai was released where she is a child artiste playing the role of Lord Murugan! She then went on to conquer the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi film industry becoming the top actress in all the three! She is truly deserving of the title of ‘Superstar’ more than anyone else.
Five years back she made a mark with ‘English Vinglish’ where she fights for the respect a housewife deserves and now in ‘Mom’, she tells us not to underestimate the power of a mother. Interestingly, the occupancy of the cinema hall where I went to watch the ‘first-day-first-show’ of this film was much more than it was for Salman Khan’s recently released Tubelight, giving a clear indication that Sridevi commands respect and a fan-following of her own which is independent of the presence of any of the other top stars!
On the face of it director Ravi Udayavar’s debut film Mom is an emotionally charged revenge drama where the perpetrators of the heinous crime of rape are brought to justice by the victim’s mother. But the film is more than just that. The film explores the circumstances leading to such acts and the consequent physical, mental and emotional trauma the family undergoes which leaves a permanent scar on their body and soul. It makes us question many things in our social fabric which are chillingly scary and unnerving but don’t seem to have any answers.
Sceptics may argue that this kind of ‘female-oriented’ revenge saga has nothing new to offer but the alarming insensitivity of our law and order system to this dastardly act is indeed terrifying! Many times the police waste no time in nabbing the culprits but the rapists escape scot-free because of the various loopholes in the prosecution’s case, lack of concrete evidence, effortless perjury committed by the witnesses and finally the immorality of the lawyer representing them.
Under these circumstances, the audience is not only able to connect with the revenge-scenes unfolding but also derives immense satisfaction from the kind of deserving punishment meted out to these perpetrators. This empathy and Sridevi’s stupendous performance thus end up becoming the film’s biggest USP. There is no doubt whatsoever that only Sridevi could have done this role which required her to bring to life the character of the mother who is utterly helpless to take away her daughter’s trauma and pain. In fact she goes beyond just acting because she becomes the character, Devki. Her voice modulations, her expressions, her emotional outbursts and her steely determination all leave the viewer spellbound and make for compelling viewing .
The brilliant Nawazuddin Siddiqui adds yet another feather to his versatile cap. This time he goes in for a voice modulation and a make-over as well, which has him donning a bald pate, crooked teeth and glasses. His role is more of a supporting nature yet in that short time he endears with his sparkling wit and a performance which the people are not going to forget in a long time.
The talented and charming Akshaye Khanna remains as handsome as ever and continues to remain underutilized and does his best in the not-so well-written role. The two Pakistani actors Adnan Siddique who plays the father and Sajal Ali who plays Sridevi’s step-daughter are also superb in their roles. Adnan brings an endearing dignity to his performance and leaves an indelible mark as the sensitive father. There is a close-knit warmth in the father-daughter relation not seen very often in our films. As the victim, newcomer Sajal Ali is very effective and conveys her pain and suffering very well.
The rapists are seemingly ordinary-looking men and the fact that rapists can come in any form and shape adds more fear to the disturbing set-up. The film ‘Pink’ with the message of ‘NO means NO’ may have minted money at the box-office but in reality men still find it hard to take a ‘No’ from girls and this seems to be their only form of revenge for their hurt ego.
Are we ever going to find a solution for this? Also the widespread pub-culture among young teenagers and the infamous ‘farmhouse-parties’ where drinks are flowing freely and drugs are available easily is certainly a cause for concern. Youngsters in that age-group can become rebellious and difficult to control whether in school or at parties and any advice only leads to further damage. The scene also sends a clear message to the youngsters who innocently attend such parties where security and women’s safety are totally non-existent!
The director also steers clear of showing any graphic depiction of the monstrous act! In fact the scene which shows the closed moving vehicle from an aerial view becomes even more chilling as we realize how lonely and deserted the city roads are at that time of night in Delhi and how helpless anyone in that situation would be! So many times we read about such cases in the newspapers and our imagination during that scene will leave us shaken! A R Rahman adds his own dimension to the scene with his chilling background score…
Likewise when the killers are punished it is not brute force of any physical kind but ingenuity which takes precedence and the results are equally effective. So there is no bone-battering which happens when our male stars resort to revenge in the action films.
The film shows the difficulties and emotional turbulence faced by the family trying to deal when a horrific incident wreaks havoc in their lives and changes things forever. There is also another sensitive angle to the story here. Sridevi happens to be Sejal’s stepmother and the daughter has not yet accepted her fully. In fact the undercurrent of resentment is clearly evident in their relationship and their day-to-day conversations. So when this trauma occurs, she turns to her father which hurts Sridevi emotionally but she respects, understands and accepts her daughter’s feelings with grace and dignity.
It is not as if the film is flawless and perfect. It does have its share of cliches and melodrama but the film is definitely worth a ‘dekko’ for the plot so relevant in today’s times, for Sridevi’s towering performance and for the one and only Nawazuddin Siddiqui! Also, though the story has no surprises as anyone who has watched the trailer will have a rough idea of what to expect, the treatment is different and the narrative is very fast-paced keeping the audience engrossed from start to finish!