By Murtaza Ali Khan
Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews
Maatr is a revenge thriller written and produced by Michael Pellico and directed by Ashtar Sayed. Raveena Tandon's much-awaited comeback film, Maatr, got a lot of media attention just ahead of its release with reports of it being rejected by the CBFC, popularly known as the Censor Board, doing rounds on the internet. The CEO of CBFC Anurag Shrivastava later issued a statement denying the reports. Maatr costars Madhur Mittal, Divya Jagdale, Anurag Arora, Rushad Rana, and Shailender Goyal.
The plot of Maatr revolves around a woman named Vidya Chauhan, a teacher by profession, who gets raped and assaulted along with her teenage daughter while on her way back from a school function by a wild gang of goons led by the son of a powerful politician. While she survives the assault her daughter succumbs to the injuries. The film is about her struggle to seek justice against all odds. Maatr is set in Delhi and is inspired by the infamous Nirbhaya rape case.
Despite showing a lot of promise to begin with, Maatr fails to leave any lasting impression. Let's try and examine the different reasons that end up hampering the film.
1. Clichéd plot
The plot of Maatr is full of clichés. The screenplay doesn't appear to be making any serious efforts to show us something that we haven't seen already in movies like recent movies like Mardaani, Pink, NH10, or a SRK-Madhuri classic like Anjaam. Also, the character played by Raveena Tandon here reminds us of Vidya Balan's character in Kahaani. Only it doesn't seem to have as many different layers to it. The element of suspense is also missing here. The film, however, does succeed in drawing our attention about sexual crimes against women but it seems to lack both the intent and the gravitas needed to tackle a sensitive subject like rape.
2. Over dramatic performances
The performances in Maatr are over dramatic and lack the conviction that's needed to make the viewers take them seriously. The characters seem to be straight out of some B-grade movie of the '90s. Why is it always the son or nephew or relative of a powerful politician? If we look at the infamous Nirbhaya rape case, the perpetrators weren't well connected or relatives of some powerful politicians but actually belonged to the lowest stratum of society. So why always projecting the rich and the powerful as rapists and criminals?
3. Stale characters
Sadly, Maatr only seems concerned about offering stale characters such as a heartless husband, good-for-nothing cop, rich philanthropic friend, and a bunch of goons high on drugs. We have seen such characters over and over again in Hindi movies. A big comeback film about an important social issue such as Maatr ought to do better than that.
4. Lack of clarity on the part of the makers
Maatr lacks a clarity regarding what the makers are trying to achieve with the movie. Deliberate efforts to make it look like a serious social commentary, a fast-paced revenge thriller, a tender family drama, all at the same time. Sadly, the ambition and the execution seem to be polls apart.
5. Too much of violence
One of the most disturbing aspects about Maatr is its high violence quotient. Yes, the makers want to make people more aware of the atrocities associated with sexual crimes but in the process, they end up propagating violence just for the sake of it. The high levels of violence (both sexual and otherwise) make large sections of the movie unwatchable for the average viewer.
6. Tired looking performance from Raveena Tandon
Raveena Tandon had proven herself time and again as a highly versatile actress but in Maatr, she looks rather tired and exhausted throughout the movie. Making a comeback is never easy and it appears that Tandon would require a few more outings in order to regain her old form. Also, let's not forget that roles like the one she essays in Maatr require intense physicality and can get too exhausting for the performer at times.
7. Unrealistic character transformations
The transformation of certain characters in the film is so sudden and drastic that it looks unbelievable. How can a teacher become a killer overnight without any proper training or expertise? The change in the husband's behavior that's far more difficult to digest. Instead of comforting his wife, he is hell-bent on divorcing her as if he had been waiting to pounce on such an opportunity all along.
8. Negative portrayal of police
Maatr's portrayal of the police and the system is quite disappointing. Right from the onset, the viewer is made to believe that the police and the system are good for nothing. That the victim will have to take the law on her own hands in order to get the justice. While we all agree that the police machinery has its share of flaws but it would be outrageous to think that every policeman is corrupt or helpless and the law is incapable of delivering justice.
A version of this review was first published in Wittyfeed.
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