Film Review: MAATR

The Nirbhaya  incident put Delhi firmly on the map as the rape capital of India.  The moment you know that Maatr is a film on rape and violence against women, you would be prepared to watch a film of revenge. There are no court cases here—just raw, brutal acts of retribution which would keep you baying for the protagonist.

Vidya Chauhan (Raveena Tnadon), a history teacher in Delhi and her daughter Tia (Alisha Khan) return home late one night after attending the school annual function.  To circumvent the heavy traffic, Vidya takes a deserted road.  Apurva Malik (Madhur Mittal) the Chief Minister’s son who had been following them with his cocaine-snorting, bottle-swigging goons, ambush them and take them to his farmhouse where they are savagely gang-raped and left for dead on an abandoned road. Vidya survives; her husband Ravi (Rushad Rana) blames her for taking a ‘wrong turn’. Ravi deserts her—in any case, the marriage was already falling to pieces.  She seeks solace in her close friend and artist Ritu’s (Divya Jagdale) home.

Despite still looking glamorous, the ‘mast mast (Mohra) ravishing Raveena’ has chosen the perfect vehicle to make a solid comeback in her first major role in more than a decade. The expression in her eyes, when she’s been left for dead and when her daughter’s been ravaged by the seven punks, is a combination of mournfulness and requital.

Director Ashtar Sayed, in his debut feature film, has done a decent job. The husband Ravi’s initial expressions of indifference failing to show the grief upon hearing the news were indeed puzzling till the director’s and writers’ intentions dawn upon the viewer. Even the callous role of the investigating police office Jayant Shroff (Anurag Arora in a fine performance) seems well-defined—as when he injudiciously informs Vidya that her daughter is dead or when he tells her that ‘a victim cannot be a witness’. Madhur Mittal’s (‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame) character too is well- sketched— while dealing with his gang or while openly defying his father.

Despite the post-interval scenes turning out fairly predictable, the finale seems to defy logic as when the Chief Minister’s house is left unguarded despite the blasts.

Maatr plays out evenly upto a point. It’s fictionalized, even over-dramatized at times but it also serves as a reality check.

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