Movie Review: ‘Maatr’ Is A Good Concept Marred By Poor Performances

Shreemi Verma

Disclaimer – The review is the author’s opinion alone.

Maatr
Maatr

A woman-centric revenge drama always makes a good story on paper, and Maatr is exactly that. The problem with this movie headlined by Raveena Tandon is it’s execution. After seeing the queen of ’90’s Bollywood for a very short amount of time in Bombay Velvet, I was honestly expecting this one to be at least worth a watch, but the movie disappoints. The issue with Maatr is that it isn’t a genuinely well-made film (like Kill Bill or NH10) nor does it embrace the melodrama to give us a campy but extremely enjoyable fare, a la Khoon Bhari Maang. It’s just strangely hanging in between.

The story starts with Vidya’s (Raveena) daughter Tia (Alisha Khan) giving a presentation on the Ramayan at her school’s Annual Program, which wins her the top prize. The chief minister of Delhi is the chief guest for the function, accompanying him is his son Apurva Malik (Madhur Mittal) and his cronies. All the ‘dudebros’ look like walking talking STDs. The scums pretty openly lech at Tia and her friend and right after the mother and her daughter are on their way home, the women are abducted and gang raped by them. Their bodies are thrown away, presumably dead and while Tia succumbs to her injuries, Vidya, (who can never forget the faces of her and her daughter’s tormentors) survives. The police don’t help her because of the powerful parties involved in the crime and they’re too corrupt to change their ways. What happens next is Vidya getting justice in her own way by murdering the men who ruined her life.

As I said, this makes a good story on paper, but director Ashtar Sayed and writer Michael Pellico have managed to turn something so sensitive into a sordid mess. Raveena’s husband Ravi (Rushad Rana) clearly doesn’t care about his wife, and is rightfully called out by her best friend Ritu (Divya Jagdale) for trying to play the victim. But, the news of his daughter’s death also barely evokes any response. It’s only after the doctor tells him about his daughter’s gang rape does he show some semblance of emotion. So rape is worse than death? Okay then.

Raveena Tandon in Maatr
Raveena Tandon in Maatr

Problematic husband aside (who leaves her soon after she has been raped and lost a child), Vidya’s masterplan of catching the men is extremely juvenile. She spots one of her rapists at a signal and then decides to follow him (right behind his motorbike) all day. The man is stupid enough to not notice, which is fair. But she continues this stalking for many days, without bothering to hide her face at any instance. She also keeps her headlights on while noting down his bike number, and manages to be unnoticeable despite being right in front of his eyes. Working her way into Apurva’s inner circle, she gets Tia’s classmate (who has turned into a sex slave for one of the rapists) to murder him. While I get that the abused girl would want to murder the man who rapes her every night, turning an underage girl into a killer to fulfill your personal agenda isn’t really the best way to deal with things.

Thankfully, there’s just one (forgettable) song that plays in the background. Raveena has given a very average performance for a role as meaty as this one, which is a pity because we all know that the actress is capable of much more. Slumdog Millionaire‘s Madhur Mittal tries to channel his inner Tahir Raj Bhasin (Karan Rastogi in Mardaani) but he hardly manages to make much of an impact. The supporting cast is laughably bad.

Eventually, the film looks more like a Crime Patrol episode than a full-length Hindi feature film starring a popular actress. Or maybe I just expect more from one of the best actresses in Bollywood!

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