The trailer of ‘MOM’ was one of the best Hindi film trailers one has seen in recent times. The second trailer, too, was mighty impressive without giving away anything important about the plot of the film. The only thing it made one realize that this film, starring powerhouse performers like Sridevi, Akshaye Khanna, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Adnan Siddiqui, would be a dark thriller about a mother seeking revenge for a wrongdoing committed by some people that has affected her family’s life adversely.
Devki Sabharwal (Sridevi) works as a teacher in a reputed school in Delhi. Her step daughter Arya (Sajal Ali) studies in the same school. While Arya shares a good bond with her step-sister Priya, she is not willing to accept Devki as a part of the family and addresses her as Ma’am. Devki has an equal amount of love for both the girls but Arya does not reciprocate her feelings. While Anand (Adnan Siddiqui) is not happy about the fact that Arya does not value Devki’s feelings for her, Devki does not complain and believes she will accept her eventually. Arya goes to a party in a distant farmhouse with her friends. There, she gets into a scuffle with a fellow classmate who misbehaves with her. Upset by how the party turned out for her, Arya decides to get back home but fails to do so.
‘MOM’ is primarily a revenge drama that has the beats of a thriller. While the mild twists in the narrative, particularly in the second half, kept one engaged, the film, which deals with a sensitive subject, managed to stir us up emotionally only sporadically. The first half takes a predictable route and one strongly feels the pace could have been tighter, leaving scope for information to seep in which would have made the viewer look forward to the second half with much more anticipation. One can see most of the key events happening from a mile’s distance but it is Ravi Udyawar’s treatment which makes all the difference here. Most of the scenes are written and shot in a raw and realistic manner and that keep your interest alive in the film. You gasp as Arya is thrown off a car and empathize with Sabharwal family as they deal with the incident and its aftermath. The film turns into a revenge drama in the second half. While a few twists and turns are engaging, the film resorts to several clichés that one has come across in several thrillers. The ease with which Devki goes about taking down the culprits one by one does not make things interesting either.
Devki is portrayed as a liberal, modern woman and yet, when a female constable tells her (without any hint of taunt or malice in her voice) that her daughter must be with her boyfriend as it is Valentine’s Day today, she gets offended and tells her sternly “Meri beti waisi ladki nahin hai” (my daughter is not that kind of a girl). Does she mean to infer that a girl who has a boyfriend is of a questionable character? The film is sensitive towards a girl who has been raped but it does not seem to care much about a boy (even though he is guilty of committing a heinous crime himself) who has gone through sexual abuse in a prison.
Sridevi’s character goes through a gamut of emotions in the film and the actress depicts all of them with ease. However, one does wonder as to why she has not worked harder to polish her over-bearing South Indian accent in all those years. Akshaye Khanna delivers a pitch-perfect performance which yet again proves he is one of the most under-explored actors in the country. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, billed as ‘guest appearance’, plays the part of the quirky detective very well. Adnan Siddiqui has a strong screen presence and matches Sridevi’s, whom he is paired opposite, performance to the T. Sajal Ali does not have too many dialogues in the film but her silence speaks a thousand words. Abhimanyu Singh looks sufficiently menacing in the role of Jagan.
Two years ago, ‘NH10’ made our heart raced fast as the film unfolded on screen. We almost felt that we were a part of the milieu the film was set in and could relate to the fear that the couple (Anushka Sharma and Neil Bhoopalam) were going through. ‘MOM’ is a different film but in the same genre of cinema. It kept us engaged for most of its duration, made our heart skip a beat once in a while but did not move us.