Bold policewoman Shivani Shivaji Roy is on the trail of an organized gang, which also specializes in trade with underage girls. After mobsters kidnap her daughter’s friend, she goes after them with even greater determination and personal commitment. This successful crime thriller with a surprising punch line gives a vivid picture of one of the most pressing issues in Indian society today.

Trailer Mardaani with English subtitles.

2014 – 113 min – action drama
Directed by: Pradeep Sarkar
Cast: Rani Mukerji, Tahir Bhasin, Sanjay Tanej
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: Czech, English
Format: DCP

Mardaani is to date the most important and praised films dealing with the current social debate on exploitation of women and sexual violence in India. The creators have chosen a noticeably more authentic and naturalistic stylization than was seen in older Indian films addressing a similar subject, such as the hit Damini (1993) or the more populist and action packed Zakho aurata (1988). They also deviate from standard storylines by making the main character a strong woman who does not need a man’s support (excellent Rani Mukerji, who already had experience with a similar role in the acclaimed thriller No One Killed Jessica, 2011).

Director Pradeep Sarkar describes in detail the brutal methods used by the underworld and shows that even the heroine herself is often forced to cross the limits of the law and resort to similarly harsh manners. The film additionally aims at a controversial, but also surprising and impressive denouement, which elevates it above the average genre.

It is interesting that Mardaani was produced by the prestigious company Yash Raj Films, which until recently focused mainly on non-controversial and romantic flicks for a family audience. Even its Director had until then shot mainly romantic melodramas, with his debut Parineeta (2005) earning him the most attention. The film is among other things an eloquent example of Bollywood’s current tendency – in response to global film trends it seeks to achieve a greater diversity in genre and style.

Mardaani has rightly earned positive responses from the audience and critics, who praised it especially for its pressing topic, its authenticity, impressive camera and excellent performances (apart from Rani Mukerji, the debuting Tahir Bhasin Raj is amazing as the main villain). American journalist Andy Webster in his review for the New York Times noted that Mardaani can be partly compared to the cult action thriller Taken (2008).

About the director

Pradeep Sarkar was born on April 30, 1955 in Calcutta. He is a director and writer and began his career with Vinod Chopra Productions. In 2005, Sarkar made his directorial debut with the film Parineeta which earned him the national film award for best Director (first film). He is also known for Laaga Chunari Mein Daag: Journey of a Woman (2007), and Lafangey Parindey (2010) starring Neil Nitin Mukesh and Deepika Padukone. Mardaani is his 5th film.