Maatr movie review: Riveting as Raveena Tandon's performance is, the plot is terribly convenient
In Maatr, a wrong turn on a Delhi street is all it took for Vidya Chauhan’s (Raveena Tandon) life to be pulverised. The car that was conveniently close behind when her car crashed, does not rescue the injured mother and her teenage daughter Tia out of concern, but opportunism.
Soaked in a haze of drinks, drugs and power, a group of men heap atrocities on the women, as a helpless mother is forced to watch her daughter’s life being shattered and sniffed out. It’s the worst kind of nightmare one can imagine.
When her heartless and uncaring husband leaves her, when the police bows to political pressure and callously dismisses her case, when Vidya’s only support is her sympathetic but prickly friend Ritu (Divya Jagdale), the grieving mother takes matters into her own hands. Somehow there’s no enlisting of a lawyer, no investigation of any sort besides the cursory arrest of three random men on whom the crime is wrongly pinned.
Writer Michael Pellico's script of Maatr is convenient, especially as matters of police procedure and details of the law are sidestepped.
Maatr is a revenge saga that shows the sudden alteration of a regular schoolteacher into a strategising killer.
Director Ashtar Syed captures the sinister and lonely locations of Delhi and builds suspense and horror effectively and gets fine performances out of even those actors lumbered with shallow parts.
For instance Shroff (Anurag Arora), the cynical investigating officer on Vidya’s case, who easily submits to obvious power equations and shows a remarkable disinterest in the law or ethics. He reminds Ritu and Vidya that justice is hardly a recourse in a country where more than three crore cases are pending in the courts and that candlelight marches and social media outrage are not going to get them very far.
Even when the police get suspicious of Vidya’s involvement in the deaths of the men in Apurva Malik’s (Madhu Mittal, suitably creepy) gang, they don’t bother to follow through.
How can a woman do all this, asks a stumped politician who has thus far been protecting his son from the law?
The question that bothered me was more was: When does a woman, who is so damaged and so busy plotting seven deaths, find the time to blow dry her hair?
Tandon internalises the horror and conveys the pain through her eyes, which turn fiery once she tastes first blood.
She’s most convincing as the caring mother and teacher. It’s harder to accept that murder can come so easy to Vidya.
And while Tandon makes you feel her desperation, the script too simply and unintelligibly transforms her into a vengeance-seeking serial killer.