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Hackneyed Revenge Drama

Saturday, April 22, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

Maatr
Director:
Ashtar Sayed
Cast: Raveena Tandon, Divya Jagdale, Anurag Arora, Madhur Mittal and others
Rating: * *

In the commercial films of 1980-90s, rape was a standard plot device to enable the hero—and sometimes the heroine—to take gory revenge. For some years this formula was buried, but post Nirbhaya, focus on the fight for justice in crimes against women seems to have brought it right back. However, like 'Pink', or even 'NH10', a film should have something to say beyond the obvious.

Ashtar Sayed’s 'Maatr', is as hackneyed as possible for a film about rape, but it still pushes the right buttons of horror and outrage, because that kind of nightmare is constantly being reported in the media. Vidya (Raveena Tandon) and her daughter Tia (Alisha Khan) are returning late from a school function, and she takes a deserted lane to avoid traffic. Both are violently raped and left for dead by the side of the street. The daughter dies, and Vidya barely survives, but she is blamed by her callous husband (Rushad Rana) for what happened to her, and even the cops are indifferent. The perpetrator is Apoorva (Madhur Mittal), the nasty son of the chief minister, who has a bunch of cronies with him.

Vidya has only her loyal friend Ritu (Divya Jagdale) for support, and she realises that she cannot get justice the legal way. Even the corrupt cop, Jayant Shroff (Anurag Arora) is of the opinion that there is no point in fighting a losing battle. It would be easy for them to prove consent, he says.

Vidya then decides to punish the men her own way. She kills them one by one, but there is too much coincidence and contrivance to how she goes about it. The one thing in the film’s favour is that unlike the Zakhmi Aurat kind of films, there is no shouting or ranting. Raveena Tandon and Divya Jagdale ably carry the film and make it slightly watchable. But the takeaway still is, that vigilante justice is right because the powerful can get away with heinous crimes; what makes it worse is that the men are so inhuman in their brutality, it makes you wonder what kind of society breeds such monsters.

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