‘Mom’ Movie Review: Silent and Screaming, Sridevi Steals the Show
God couldn’t be everywhere, and so he made mothers. At one point, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character in Mom even spells this out. By and large, this is the overarching theme of the film – a mother doing everything imaginable (and unimaginable), to avenge the crime against her daughter. The theme is quite similar to Raveena Tandon’s Maatr, which released earlier this year, but unlike Maatr, Mom has a stronger hold on the narrative.
Set in Delhi (which tragically appears to be the natural habitat for all crimes against women), and shot mostly in real locations, the ominous tone is set right at the beginning. Devki (Sridevi), Anand (Adnan Siddiqui) and their two daughters live in relative harmony, as they unsuspectingly plan a family holiday.
Arya, the teenage daughter, seems to share an uneasy relationship with her mother (who also doubles up as her Biology teacher in school). Girish Kohli’s screenplay deftly engages us into the proceedings as the details bleed out slowly.
A farmhouse party beckons and Arya readies to go flushed in the beauty of her first love.
Anay Goswamy’s camera captures the tension, tone and cadences of the various participants, turning an otherwise regular story into a taut thriller. An aerial shot of a black SUV stopping by the curb gives us the chilling details.
A man gets out of the front seat of the car and climbs into the back, and the car starts moving again. Next we see a body being kicked and brusquely thrown into an open drain. Arya, while in semi-conscious state, pulls the curtain to keep Devki away.
There are many such silent but poignant moments, and Mom is richer – thanks to them. Director Ravi Udyawar must be given credit for the way he harnesses the principle elements of the plot.
The biggest lure, of course, is the cast. Mom is a Sridevi film. She maneuvers the silent moments as beautifully as the ones where she must let her heart out.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a class apart. His dentures and half balding wig give him an interesting look. He paddles his wares with such ease and finesse that one can’t help but be completely invested in both the film and his character in particular.
As the ‘lurking in the shadows’ private detective, he has the best lines and does absolute justice to them. Akshay Khanna is stirringly measured as the investigating officer, Mathew Francis, and always makes us ache for more.
Veteran Pakistani actor, Adnan Siddiqui, beautifully evokes an authentic sense of grief and anger. He has limited screen time, but makes the most of it. Sajal Ali is another solid performer, heartbreakingly sincere as the resentful daughter and bruised victim.
There is an emotional truth and sincerity to the film, which makes it such a compelling watch. Where it stumbles is to find a perfect denouement.
Abhimanyu Singh as the principal villain, isn’t bad, but his character is half-heartedly sketched. In fact, it never fully tries to explore the criminal workings of the mind of the perpetrators, quite as much as we would have ideally liked it to. The second half, in that respect, feels a little too staged and contrived for comfort.
Mom explores the notion of justice and law, and does so with the backing of some powerful performers. It doesn’t come up with any easy answers, but does a good job of holding our attention.
I give it 3.5 quints out of 5.
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Producer: Vatsala Singh
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya