For a person who grew up watching Sridevi cavort around innumerable matkas in unusual dresses, the last couple of her films have been a revelation. Sure there was the dubbed Sadmaand maybe more films down south which were different, but for the average viewers from the heartland, the image was difficult to shake off for a long time. Sridevi has successfully crossed over to meaningful cinema where at 53, she can still singlehandedly shoulder a film. Also, it does not hurt when your husband happens to be one of the biggest producers in Bollywood. You can have scripts written just for you.
Mom is s story that has been told before, Pushed to the wall by an incompetent and corrupt system, the protagonist has no choice but to take law in her own hands. What is different is the treatment. Ravi Udyawar’s art and advertisement background imparts the film a certain sheen and sophistication.
It’s a story that has been played out in reality many times, especially in Delhi. A girl goes out with friends to have a good time unaware that there are predators out and about in the city looking for prey just like her. Instead of nursing a hangover the next day, she ends up being nursed in a hospital, dangling between life and death. The family, who are urban, educated and more importantly with no muscle power, turn to law for redressal. The final blow comes when the law lets the perpetrators go scot free. A situation like this makes one recalibrate one’s moral compass. As Sridevi puts it – what do you choose when the choice is between galat (wrong) and bahut galat (very wrong)?
Devki Sabharwal (Sridevi) and step daughter Arya (Sajal Ali) share an uneasy relationship. The young girl is not able to accept Devki has her mother. The writer has used the relationship to keep the interest unwavering in the first half. This also affords Sridevi the opportunity to show her acting chops and she does not let the opportunity go waste. The businessman father of the girl Anand Sabharwal (Adnan Siddiqui) completes the family.
Once the perpetrators are acquitted the film moves into the thriller territory where Devki hunts the criminals down. She is helped by a private detective Daya Shankar Kapoor, “DK” (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and pursued by the cop Matthew Francis (Akshaye Khanna). The pace is brisk in the second half and the excellent cinematography keep the viewers hooked.
The trio of Sridevi, Akshaye Khanna and Nawazuddin Siddiqui take the film from an ordinary to extraordinary level. Akshay Khanna effortlessly slips into the character of the cop. It’s a shame he is so underutilized in this film and Bollywood in general. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as always, is in fine form but has a rather limited role. Which brings us to the titular character. Sridevi is a powerhouse as far as performance is concerned. Barring her distinct dialogue delivery, she is flawless. That is why the added spotlight on her was not needed. She doesn’t need the protection of her producer-husband. She can stand tall on her own.
The film does tend to get slow in the first half. At least 15-20 minutes should have been chopped off on the editing table. Secondly, no expense has been spared in making the film, even when cheaper alternatives would have made no difference to the story. Shooting in foreign location would have added to the cost without adding materially to the story. Given that the film is solely resting on Sridevi’s appeal, it may not justify the budget and adversely affect the profitability of the project. Business considerations aside, Mom is definitely a one-time watch.
Rating : 3/5
Starring: Sridevi, Adnan Siddiqui, Sajal Ali, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna
Director: Ravi Udyawar