Mardaani Review

1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide for sexual exploitation.

India is the world’s ‘hub’ of child sex trafficking.

In India, nearly 40,000 children are abducted every year, of which 11,000 remain untraced.

Every eight minutes, a child goes missing in India.

The film Mardaani ends with these sad facts.

Mardaani is not a film that anyone can dislike or disapprove of because it carries such a strong and important message, about child exploitation, human trafficking, forced prostitution, rape, abuse and kidnapping. Yash Raj Films and Rani Mukherji have clearly given their best for this film and they have succeeded in making an exemplary film with a social message. Mardaani is not only educational but also empowering.

In the past, I used to think that such films were overrated. I didn’t feel that these type of films really made any difference. “We watch it and then forget it,” is how I thought about the issue. But now, I know that I’m wrong. There are actually plenty of countries in the world with the same problems where these films never get made. Upon spending considerable time in such a country, I’ve now understood the importance of films like Mardaani. We may not think that anything concrete comes out of them but in fact, it does. Films like Mardaani develop social awareness and this awareness will surely make a difference in the long run. It’s really in countries where these films are never made that we should worry.

This is not really a criticism, but I do think that Mardaani could have been more hair raising, more shocking and disturbing. But then again, if the film had further emphasized the cruelty that young women forced into prostitution face, I’m sure that it would have run into problems with the film board.

One controversial aspect of the film is the whole idea of “This is India and we can get away with killing people.” “It’s called public outrage,” etc. Is it a good idea to encourage people to take law into their own hands? No, because then where do you draw the line? But is it true that criminals often get off scott-free in countries like India due to corruption and nepotism? Yes, absolutely. And do we want to finish a film giving the audience the deep satisfaction of having destroyed the evil villain? Of course. So I think we can overlook this part because come on, we wanted to see that guy dead too.

There is some simplicity and idealism in Mardaani that doesn’t quite reflect the intensity of reality. But it still delivers the right messages and the right emotions. One strong idea that has remained with me after seeing Rani’s impressive action scene in the very end of the film is that women must know physical self defense. It is so important in this era where violence against women is rising.

As women are empowered financially and socially in developing countries, the opposite sex seem to be suffering from frustration and desire for greater control over women. Men’s inability to cope with the fact that women are equal to men is resulting in increased violence, harassment and oppression against women in my opinion. This is an era where women must support, defend and protect themselves and one another more than ever.

I’ve gone on a tangent but this just shows how successful Mardaani is. It gets us talking about issues that matter and I highly recommend this film. If you have missed it thinking that it might be too stressful or depressing, do not fear. You will have no problem watching the film, the makers have been very considerate in making the film easy to watch even for those who are sensitive to certain types of scenes.

My respect for Rani as an actor and also as a woman has increased one more notch with this film. She is superb and I personally am very proud of her. From the alluring Tina from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, to the blunt Meera in No One Killed Jessica, the coy Meenakshi in Aiyyaa and now the brave Shivani, Rani Mukherjee has always been a very versatile actress.

Maybe the only thing I would change about Mardaani would be the title of the film. Why should courage and strength be described as manly?

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