Pitchforking a female character into the spotlight seems to be Bollywood’s latest go-to formula. A “women-centric” film where they do give ladies the reign but the inclusions have been so self-conscious that we know it’s simply to get applause and a pat on the back for the right intentions. Touted as Raveena Tandon’s “comeback” film, Maatr does just this.
Delhi proves to be the perfect setting for drunken men to go about their night-time shenanigans, unhindered by the fear of law. Vidya (Raveena Tandon) and her daughter Tia (Alisha Khan) are returning home late at night from their annual school function when a hastily taken wrong turn leads them to unmitigated tragedy and pain. With the perpetrators of the crime being rich and politically connected, the fight for justice seems a sham, and so Vidya decides to take matters in her own hands and seeks revenge.
A neatly built revenge drama, it even has stray moments where we get genuinely invested in the machinations, but the trajectory is so clichéd and obvious that it ends up being a torpid tale told in the most uninspiring fashion.
Raveena Tondon as the mother who when pushed to the brink summons her inner strength is quite effective in the role. But there is little support from the craven plot to either her or any of the other actors.
Rushad Rana as the insensitive husband who abandons his wife when she needs him the most or Madhur Mittal (of Slumdog Millionaire fame) as evil incarnate are both welcome additions, but there is only so much that one can do in a set-up doomed by its myopic vision.
How a regular school teacher can suddenly hatch devious plans to kill seasoned criminals by simply running on treadmills and lifting weights in the gym, we are never told.
Also, how a city like Delhi has only a single investigating officer for all crimes being committed is a mystery that will forever haunt us. Writer Michael Pellico gives us precious little to look forward to.
Maatr is well-intentioned but so poorly executed by director Ashtar Sayed that it does disservice to solemn issues about women safety and justice.
Just like the inspector said at the end of the last murder – “It is finally over”. We feel the same relief, too. It’s over and quite forgettable.
*1.5 QUINTS out of 5*