Many a times once a filmmaker starts a movie, he starts thinking of the viewership, specifically how to increase it. Then he starts adding elements that he thinks will increase viewership. Nothing wrong with it, unless the additional elements take away from the narrative itself. This is what happened with Madaari. This was a script that Irrfan saw and hunted for the right director. Despite the meticulous effort, the film can’t seem to decide what it wants to be – a thriller or a drama. The end product is a mishmash.
The opening credits are accompanied by a montage that sets the stage for a story on the corruption and sky-rocketing prices the country is reeling under. It starts promisingly enough. A child, son of the Home Minister nonetheless, is kidnapped by a man (Irrfan) who bears a grudge against the Government. He has left no ransom note making the officials uneasy. The Home Minister assigns his trusted security official Nachiket, who recognizes that he needs to figure out the reason for the kidnapping before he can nab the kidnapper. He quickly sets up the security apparatus and sets his plan in motion.
The story shifts to the kidnapper and the child. This is where the film starts to falter. The portion where Irrfan moves around with the child on bus, train, then bus again is a repetitive humdrum. Within a few minutes, all traces of fear leave the child and their relationship sort of normalizes too soon. The film drags till the intermission, almost like a desperate attempt to make it last over it’s two hours running time.
Post intermission, the film picks up pace again till it nears the climax. The climax is possibly the weakest link. Suddenly, the film changes tune to rousing people from their apathy using social media. It is almost as if the director decides to make it about changing the system, rather than a cat and mouse chase that a thriller usually is. And the whole idea of having one ending reversed to another long-convoluted one does not make sense. The change from thriller to drama to hyperbole dilutes the narrative.
Irrfan as the kidnapper lends credibility to the role. It is hard to root for a man who has kidnapped a child and may possibly kill him. Irrfan’s coldness towards the child is convincing. However, he has the ability to find the moral center in his characters and make them human. Jimmy Shergill has once again proved that he is perhaps one of Bollywood’s most under-rated talent. He has the charisma and the acting chops and deserves more due.
A story like Madaari needs a laserlike focus on the plot. If it needs 90 minutes to tell the story, stretching it to over 120 minutes by adding irrelevant elements might actually harm the film. I am sure, on paper Madaari would have sounded a promising outing and could have been another “A Wednesday”. The execution, however, doesn’t let it get even close.
Rating : 2/5
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Vishesh Bansal, Jimmy Shergill, Tushar Dalvi
Director: Nishikant Kamat