Since it’s about one unnamed man who’s making the
authorities dance cluelessly to his beat, one can’t help but compare it with
Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday. But the
comparison stops at the plot.
The home minister’s son Rohan Goswami has been
kidnapped from boarding school by a tech-savvy lone wolf. There’s no
organisation behind him which makes it all the more difficult to crack who he
is or what he seeks. There’s one super cop and the entire state machinery trying
to track him down. Exactly like A
But where the Naseeruddin-Anupam Kher film scored was
in its neat tautness. Nishikant Kamat’s Madaari
is the opposite. Overlong and over-indulgent, by the time kidnapper Nirmal
Kumar’s personal loss is revealed, Kamat has made you so celluloid weary that
it just doesn’t evoke the required empathy. The entire first half only
establishes the kidnap after loud TV bytes accompany the opening credit titles.
After train, bus and road journeys that take Nirmal
and Rohan to different Indian states, the kidnapper finally uploads a video
with his demand and it goes viral. Nishikant’s film is ultimately about a
bereaved father who wants answers and accountability and aims to bring the
corrupt to their knees. Not a bad thought. But turning the intention into a
national movement needed nail-biting intrigue and slick storytelling. Those are
precisely what go missing, making the effort as effete as the authorities in the film. There are no surprising turning points and just
when you think it’s finally over, Kamat takes you into a chawl for the climax.
There’s overuse of the TV medium which is both villain
and savior and sometimes the comedian too. None of which is novel. A social
thriller needed a tight screenplay which writer Ritesh Shah doesn’t provide. It
thus remains, like its title, an unsophisticated street act.
The only two points in its favour are Irrfan Khan’s
performance as Nirmal Kumar which is unfaultable and Vishesh Bansal playing
schoolboy Rohan who’s bratty and cuddly in right doses. Jimmy Sheirgill as the cop has little to do
except look earnest and achieve little.
For a film that’s long drawn out and doesn’t make the
desired impact, Madaari gets a 2.5*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author