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Madaari

BY SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE

Directed by Nishikant Kamat

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Vishesh Bansal, Jimmy Shergill, Tushar Dalvi and Nitesh Pandey

Much of the Indian social-thrillers fall into the realm of ‘realistic’ cinema located in the cow-belt that has been a staple of a certain breed of directors like Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap and Tigmanshu Dhulia. Let’s not get carried away. Every time a remake comes along, we get gooey-eyed and nostalgic about the original. Well, this time director Nishikant Kamat goes off-road and tries to showcase the anger of a common man against system and corruption in Madaari. Providentially the film is neither slavishly reverent to the loosely-based-concept inspired from Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday nor does it take off into weird wild and wacky tangents. The movie falls short at some instances but they are well overlapped by Irrfan Khan’s brilliance.

Madaari opens up an original plot, weeds out the humbug and preserves the core of the revenge saga of a common man whose ire grows progressively higher as the plot moves through a series of cleverly conceived moments that accentuate his alienation from the law and society. The protagonist’s disillusionment with the system stems from a tragic personal experience revealed in a flashback. The film begins with the news of the kidnapping of Home Minister’s son. As the story proceeds, CBI’s role loses dominance in the story as the kidnapper himself takes care of minister’s son and solves the entire case to get caught (or let’s say…surrender). Sounds stupid, isn’t it? Well, that’s just about one side of the coin. The other side is about kidnapper Nirmal, a common man, who has lost his son in a bridge collapse caused by negligence and high-level corruption by authorities. The parliamentary committee huddles together now and then in different rendezvouses trying to find a semblance of coherence in the political goings-on of the country and plotting ideas to secure the whereabouts of the kidnapper and rescue the kid.

Irrfan Khan as Nirmal Kumar, is a distraught father, who describes himself as an ideal voter, and is busy bringing up his son as a single parent. His whole world is his 7-year old son Apoorva. It is, however, difficult to fathom whether the protagonist’s subsequent actions are a result of all-consuming anger or overpowering grief. The narration gathers up a storm of pulpy conflicts building up to an exceptionally staged climax filmed amidst the volatile gathering of ministers in a small apartment room where the Home Minister confesses his corrupt works and agreeing that for government normal public are just toys to play with.

Jimmy Shergill as the upright cop strikes the right note. But it’s sad to see the other habitually seasoned supporting-actors fumbling over their farcical characters trying to look parochial in their allotted spaces. The motivations of the characters are inchoate, their actions seem arbitrary, and the screenplay, laced with sly wit and understated tension provides no worthwhile insight  to unravel the truth piece by piece; and this flick isn’t so much a nail-biting suspense story as it is a patience-testing tale. The absence of an inspiring budget repeatedly takes its toll on the narrative’s claim to credibility. There are innumerable sequences which jump out of nowhere, and not in a startling but annoying show of unpredictability.

The film reminds the audience repeatedly that the protagonist, by disposition, is a kidnapper committed to exposing the flaws of the nation’s legal system and corruption. His means may be questionable, his mission isn’t. So the audience is supposed to egg him on.

Nishikant Kamat, back in the director’s saddle after Rocky Handsome this year, tries to keep the treatment of the sensational story consistently real and tangible.

Madaari is a disconcerting film that turns the lens on the less-than-perfect ways of the politics in a nation where an overstretched system is always on the verge of snapping. This is uncompromised film – the picture has its lows, but delivers an original kick and another memorable Irrfan Khan, whose name is testimony to his talent.

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