What do you do when someone you love gets hurt? You do your due diligence, you go to the cops, and you wait for the system to reward you for the lakhs in tax you’ve paid. It’s a process – one that has plenty of loop holes and pitfalls. During this process, what do you do with the rage?
Verdict: A vigilante thriller, Sridevi’s ‘Mom’ explores dark alleyways within and without.
Such scenarios have long been exploited in thriller after thriller – from No One Killed Jessica to Talvar. The difference with Mom is that it’s entirely fictional – which gives room for pain and restitution.
It’s been forever since I’ve seen a standing ovation in theatres – if nothing else, Momdeserved it. Sridevi’s 300th film, Mom also released on the 50th year of her film career. It’s her comeback act from a stellar English Vinglish five years prior. A swansong for the ages, this is an edge-of-the-seat thriller that’s bound to make you wince and cry all at once.
Is that Nawazuddin Siddiqui????
In interviews, I’ve seen (post-Kahaani) Nawazuddin Siddiqui as one of the brashest and most arrogant men on screen. What I love about him is that he keeps his arrogance at the doorstep when he shoots a film. In a movie, he can be pretty much anybody. In The Lunchbox, he assumes a diminutive role – quite like his second breakout role in Talaash.
If anybody could hold his own opposite Sridevi, it would be this man. Siddiqui’s ‘DK’ remains in the background in the start of the film. I honestly didn’t know it was him until my mom pointed it out. He assumes many expressions and attires in the film – willing to go into the dirt to find the rotten.
Sridevi explores a demanding acting palette – playing a caring teacher & mother whose daughter is kidnapped & raped because she refused a guy’s advances. The system delays her justice so she takes matters into her own hands. Sridevi transitions from maternal to distraught to feisty. Taking into account the dearth of good actresses in Bollywood, there’s a tiny subset of them who could have pulled off this role.
The Plausible Vigilante
I won’t spoil it for you, but what this film does with apples is frickin’ genius. It was a “How do you like them apples?” moment that rivals Good Will Hunting. It also represents one of the things I love the most about Mom – that it gives closure to gut-wrenching tragedy with a logical approach.
It’s not like Sridevi transforms into a gun-slinging maniac or a buff She-Hulk (if that’s a spoiler, I have no regrets). She uses her contacts and resourcefulness – while the law debates whether rape or vigilantism is worse.
The plot is rich with plausible terror. The situations it creates are altogether realistic and heroic. It demands the best and worst from its characters.
Bran: Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?
Eddard: That is the only time a man can be brave.
– Game of Thrones
Love & Identity
Sridevi’s daughter in the film refuses to call her mom – mostly because she’s her stepmother. She’s referred to as “ma’am” – and is treated with the distance that comes with the word. Her daughter (Sajal Ali) is looking to create her own identity (apart from teacher’s daughter). It’s a conflict of interest seen in households around the world – only this time, tragedy strikes and everything comes to the test.
Criminals ravage her identity. In trying to restore her daughter’s identity, Sridevi’s ‘Devki’ gains her own – going from “ma’am” to “mom”. The film’s climax wraps up the theme in true cinematic fashion – taking place on a snowy hilltop.
Mom is ambitious – but doesn’t run amok and betray logic for the sake of emotion. This kind of restraint is rare in Bollywood – as is the underplayed acting. Plus, it isn’t afraid to get it hands dirty.