Movie Masala

Mom: The oldest tale with a contemporary modus operandi

Written by Shruti Misra

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. – Washington Irving

Disclaimer- The aforementioned quote is dedicated to all the mothers in the world, and not just the mother who arrives on the celluloid today.
It has to be an erratic fortuity that roughly two months ago, we saw Raveena Tandon in Maatr, a human drama that explored the ache and agony of a wronged mother, who’s daughter is brutally molested and murdered. Cut to the present, Sridevi (P.S- Not making a comeback) plays Devki Sabarwal, a biology teacher who undergoes the same trauma. A glint of expectancy surfaces in the form of Daya Shankar Kapoor aka DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). As she begins her quest for punishing the perpetrators, she’s under the scrutiny of Inspector Mathew Francis (Akshaye Khanna).
Moistened with murk and mystery, Mom unravels its cards at a sedate pace. Retribution is unlikely to be a genre du jour in Hindi cinema. In the unabashed and unrestrained epoch of the 1990s, we had a barrage of pugnacious protagonists with an indefatigable thirst for vengeance, mostly Ajay Devgn and Shahrukh Khan.
I’m reminded of yet another Sridevi starer, Army (1996), which saw her character’s emotional evolution from charming to cruel and cold-blooded, to requite her husband’s death. That being a garish and gaudy calamity, rapidly collapsed into the heaps of oblivion. With Mom, the actor’s pursuit is identical, but with a lot more nuance and subtlety.
This is Sridevi’s 300th film and 42nd year at the movies, and the actor can still command power and poise. Siddiqui and Khanna have seldom stuck out like a sore thumb, with both sinking their teeth into the characters.
And I wanted to revel just in the mere sight of Abhimanyu Singh, who, like most of the adroit actors, established a firm career down south and vanished from Hindi films. Rananjay Singh and Bukka Reddy still continue to haunt me.
Mom is far from perfect, it may lack finesse, but if there’s one movie to catch out at the cinemas, let this be the one. It’s candour transparent in every frame and debutant director Ravi Udyawar’s propensity to tell the oldest tale in the book with a contemporary modus operandi.

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Shruti Misra

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