REUTERS - Ravi Udyawar’s “Mom” is another iteration of the mother-on-a-rampage revenge saga that we saw earlier in the year with “Maatr”, which in turn was inspired by the South Korean thriller “Don’t Cry Mommy”. A mother, shattered by the gang rape of her teenage step-daughter and disillusioned by the criminal justice system, sets out for revenge.
Sridevi plays Devaki, a school teacher who lives with her businessman husband Anand, their daughter Priya and step-daughter Arya (Sajal Ali). Arya isn’t fond of her step-mother and all of Devaki’s attempts to reach out to her are met with a surly stare. Their lives are plunged into turmoil when Arya is raped by four men, who are eventually let off for lack of evidence.
Arya’s hostility towards Devaki only increases because she somehow holds her responsible for what happened to her. This somehow turns Devaki into a cold-blooded vigilante. With the help of buck-toothed private sleuth DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a wig and with a lisp), she tracks down the four men and proceeds to destroy their lives.
The screenplay, by Girish Kohli, leaves no room to explore Arya’s state of mind and how she struggles to deal with the trauma. Devaki makes it all about her – her sense of victimhood and need for revenge. Dashing police detective Matthew Francis (Akshaye Khanna) has his suspicions about what Devaki is up to, but apart from asking her a couple of awkward questions, he does nothing even though there are so many gaping holes in the latter’s modus operandi.
Udyawar seems to be egging on his protagonist to be as blood-thirsty as she can be, and making Devaki’s revenge the catalyst for Arya’s change of heart towards her – almost as if murdering someone is the ultimate act of love for a parent.
For all its narrative flaws, “Mom” does have some plus points, especially cinematographer Anay Goswami’s frames. The scenes leading up to Arya’s rape and the aftermath are some of the best in the movie. For her part, Sridevi plays the role of the protective mother with panache – never going overboard with the melodrama.
In her first full-fledged role after the much-loved “English Vinglish” in 2012, she proves that she is the embodiment of the new age Bollywood mother – willing to kill anyone who has wronged her family instead of meekly accepting what life hands out.
Editing by David Lalmalsawma
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