Zee Studios, BSK Network & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., MAD Films and Naresh Agarwal Films’ Mom (UA) is a thriller-cum-family-drama.
Devki Sabarwal (Sreedevi Kapoor) is a school teacher who lives with her husband, Anand (Adnan Siddiqui), step-daughter, Arya (Sajal Ali), and little daughter, Priya (Riva Arora). Arya is unable to accept Devki as her mom as she misses her own mother a great deal. Because Arya studies in the school in which Devki teaches, she addresses her step-mother as Ma’am rather than mom – even at home, much to the discomfort of Anand and Devki. On her part, Devki loves Arya and Priya equally and tries her level best to come closer to an unrelenting Arya.
Devki, Anand and Arya are devastated when a horrifying incident with far-reaching ramifications takes place. The criminals responsible for the wrong perpetrated on Arya are four in number. Devki and Anand drag the four of them to court but they are acquitted, simply due to lack of enough evidence.
Devki and Anand are distraught. They feel helpless because they know, justice has been denied to them. Even the investigating police officer, Matthew Francis (Akshaye Khanna), is shocked at the court verdict. As for Arya, the defeat in the court battle shatters her completely, weaning her away from Devki even more. It is now clear that Devki would never be able to win Arya’s love and respect.
Having lost all faith in the law and the judiciary but not being able to forget the trauma the family has gone through – and is still going through – Devki approaches a private detective, Dayashankar Kapoor (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). With his help, she decides to mete out justice to the four persons who had wronged Arya. But the watchful eyes of Matthew Francis don’t let her go about her task in peace.
So what happens finally? Does Devki avenge the crime committed on step-daughter Arya by the four per sons? What is Matthew Francis’ stand? Is Devki able to win Arya’s love and respect?
Ravi Udyawar, Girish Kohli and Kona Venkat have written a story from the heart. The thriller part of the story may not boast of novelty but it has the additional track of the relationship between a young girl and her step-mom, which gives it a new edge. The screenplay, penned by Girish Kohli, is outstanding and almost flawless. Kohli is in complete command as he sets out to write a drama which then becomes engrossing, engaging and interesting. There are such poignant and intelligent moments in the screenplay that one can’t help but marvel at Girish Kohli’s writing. Note, for instance, the scene in which Devki tells husband Anand that with the horrific incident, all her chances of winning over Arya had been destroyed. This one scene gives Devki two solid reasons to set out on the path of revenge, instead of just one – the crime committed by the four persons on Arya, and her own (Devki’s) personal loss of never being able to find acceptance from Arya. Note again, the trigger point for Devki to feel cent per cent inclined to seek revenge – when Dayashankar Kapoor tells her that it is because God can’t be present everywhere that he had made mothers! Truly speaking, it is Girish Kohli’s inspired writing and the intelligent juxtapositioning of the thriller and the family drama, which make the screenplay so brilliant that the audience doesn’t get bored for a single minute. Yes, the courtroom drama could have been more exciting but that’s a minor aberration.
Another beautiful point about Kohli’s screenplay is that every character in the plot is well-defined and never deviates. Yet another plus point is the speed with which Girish Kohli establishes the relationships in the first 10-15 minutes and also the fast pace of the drama. Not giving Arya a single dialogue to utter in the second half till the fag end, also shows the intelligence of the writer. A few scenes are emotional. The entire drama shakes the viewers and keeps them hooked completely. Climax is exciting, and the scene in which Matthew Francis offers to overlook law will meet with applause.
Girish Kohli’s dialogues are excellent at places but not consistently so.
Sreedevi is outstanding in the role of Devki. She is so much in character that her performance becomes one of her best to-date in her long and chequered career. Her breakdown in the hospital ICU, when the doctor gives her a devastating piece of news, is so outstanding that it could easily go down as one of the most memorable melodramatic scenes in world cinema history and not just Bollywood history. Her breakdown again while she is talking to hubby Anand (who is in the USA) in a completely incoherent manner is so wonderful that it makes the audience stare in disbelief. Her acting in the scene in which she traces her steps backwards to abide by the demands of a devastated Arya, as conveyed by her screams, is mind-blowing. Sreedevi is bound to win awards galore, besides acclaim, for her performance which could rate among the best performances in world cinema.
Sajal Ali, in the role of Arya, is outstanding. Her expressions and body language are to die for. The girl is so intelligent that she makes a distinction between how she insults her step-mother in front of her father and in front of her friends. Note also her acting (without speaking a single word) when she has to convey absolute hatred towards her step-mother, after losing the court battle. In one word, she is phenomenal! She looks pretty too. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in a special appearance, proves that a great actor can leave a mark in any role, immaterial of the length. He is so entertaining that it’s a delight to watch him whenever he comes on the screen. Truly, a memorable performance by the hugely talented Siddiqui. Akshaye Khanna lends tremendous support in the role of police inspector Matthew Francis. Adnan Siddiqui gets limited scope but provides decent support as Anand Sabarwal. Abhimanyu Singh is menacing as Jagan Singh. He uses his eyes intelligently to convey his unbridled power and villainy. Adarsh Gourav Bhaghvatula is promising in the role of Mohit Chaddha. Vikas Verma makes his presence amply felt as Charles Deewan. Pitobash Tripathi has his moments as Baburam Pandey. Riva Arora is cute as Priya Sabarwal. Yuvraj Bajwa leaves a mark as Rashid, the deputy of Matthew Francis. Rajshree Deshpande (as Dayashankar’s wife) and Saiba Kapoor (as Dayashankar’s daughter) are adequate. Naresh Gosain (as Dayashankar’s client), Ivan (as the school principal) and the rest do as desired.
Ravi Udyawar’s direction is fantastic. His understanding of the medium is superb and his handling of the sensitive subject is truly remarkable. Udyawar seems to be a supremely talented director to have debuted the way he has with this film. A.R. Rahman’s background music deserves the highest praise for enhancing the impact of the scenes. The background score is one of the strong pillars of the film. A.R. Rahman’s music is good while Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are splendid. But the songs are not of the hummable variety. Anay Goswami’s cinematography, with additional cinematography by Ralph Kaechele, is terrific. The duo deserves a lot of praise for its slick camerawork. The picturisation of the scene in which the devastating incident happens is masterly. Sham Kaushal’s action scenes are lovely. Ajay-Vipin’s (Patanga Art) art direction is appropriate. Monisha R. Baldawa deserves kudos for her sharp editing.
On the whole, Mom is a beautifully written and excellently directed film with landmark performances by its cast. It will appeal to the audience and emerge victorious at the box-office despite its terribly slow start and high cost of production (total investment: Rs. 41 crore). Its word of mouth will be very strong.