A fine lead performance by Sridevi and some truly moody cinematography by Anay Goswamy help Mom to somewhat transcend its typical storyline. Otherwise, it is by and large a predictable tale where a ‘mother’ takes revenge on the men who raped her ‘daughter’ and left her thereafter for dead.
First things first. Mom is Sridevi’s show from beginning to end and she shows us exactly why she needs to take on more films. We see the actress rising above the script with a lovely performance that shows her in total control of her craft. This is even more refreshing in an era where we have deal with mediocre talents like Katrina Kaif, Shruti Haasan and Sonam Kapoor who delude themselves to be actresses. However, truth be told, Sridevi needed a better film than Mom to shine even more.
Mom, directed by Ravi Udyawar, is too typical a tale to begin with and merely adding the stepmom-stepdaughter angle along with the odd innovative scene on how she takes revenge for her step daughter doesn’t lift the film much; except perhaps to show us what a super heroine Sridevi’s character Devaki is, doing all this for someone whom she has not physically given birth to. Following the gruesome rape – thankfully kept off-screen but no less disturbing due to the eerie sound design of the sequence, the relationship between the two women, which should have been the heart of the film, suffers from some critically weak writing. Sajal Ali, in particular, is handicapped by her character graph not being sketched out sufficiently post the rape and her final turnabout in accepting Sridevi being her Mom rather then her Ma’am is abrupt, happening rather suddenly after her overhearing the conversation between Akshaye Khanna and Sridevi in the film’s climax. It is to Ali’s credit, however, that she still produces some brilliant moments of her own, her truly horrific guttural screaming sending a recoiling Sridevi back in shock helps us understand the brutality of her rape and her mental make up following her violation.
Some of the other characterizations of the supporting cast too leave something to be desired in terms of fleshing them out. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character and his performance fall into no man’s land while Adnan Siddiqui too has preciously little to do. The film misses introspective moments between him and Sridevi and fails to focus enough on their relationship post the rape and the denial of justice to Ali. The film’s main track becomes the revenge one, which, after a while, feels long drawn and laborious. Akshaye Khanna is adequate enough as the cop working on the case.
Among the technicalities, Anay Goswamy deserves a pat on the back for his evocative camerawork in Mom. His lighting, framing, choice of hues and colour palettes bring out the visual aspect of the story beautifully. But even here, I do feel the treatment of the story is a mite obvious as we are told the Draupadi story in much too self-explanatory detail with Devaki standing before a painting dominant in blood red and even in the film’s climax, we see Devaki bathed in almost divine-like light (there is even a temple present) taking her to Devi status before she takes her final revenge by shooting down Abhimanyu Singh (terrible performance). Still, there’s no denying the effectiveness of the cinematography and the film’s look and feel be it the locations around Delhi or the snow clad mountains of Kufri. The big disappointment in the film though is AR Rahman – both for the songs and for his background score with neither making much of an impact.
Finally though, Mom works best as a vehicle for Sridevi and while it may not be the best film to make optimum use of her phenomenon talent, it does more than enough for us to want seeing a lot more of her on the screen.
Hindi, Drama, Color