How far would a mother go to defend her daughter?
The thriller Mom addresses that question in a dark, vengeful tale that sweeps you up in a quiet rampage of retribution.
Devki Sabarwal (Sridevi) is a well-respected biology teacher at a local high school and mother to two girls. However, her 18-year-old daughter Arya (Sajal Ali) is from her husband's previous marriage and doesn't fully embrace Devki as her stepmother. Instead, Arya clings to her father Anand (Adnan Siddiqui). While this causes friction in the family, Devki continues to hope that some day Arya will accept her.
While her words and body language are openly hostile to Devki, Arya doesn't blatantly lie to or cheat her stepmother. When Arya asks to go to a party with friends, she is honest about who will be going, what she will be wearing, and when she will return home.
Except that she doesn't return home.
A parent's worst nightmare becomes reality when Arya is found the next day lying in a ditch. Near death, she is hospitalized and undergoes a lengthy physical and psychological recuperation period. A court case ensues and despite Arya's first-hand account of the wrong done to her, there is enough doubt introduced as evidence to render a not-guilty verdict.
Side Note: According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults in the United States are reported to police. Out of every 1000 rapes in the U.S., 994 perpetrators will walk free.
In the film Mom, the family seeks justice within the legal system until the system lets them down. Devastated, Devki sees more wrong when she is faced with the realization that the assailants are living their lives penalty-free, having devastated a young woman and her family.
The quiet thriller is imbued with the personalities of its lead actors – each quiet by nature. These three performers deliver subdued but powerhouse performances.
As her 300th film, Sridevi brings patience and persistence to her role. But the emotional trauma experienced by the characters offered a personal challenge. Sridevi felt the role required special focus and separation from her personal life. In an NDTV interview, she explained,
"I wanted to be disconnected from people, especially in this film. The character of Devki and what she was going through didn't permit me to be in a normal atmosphere like at home, joking with my husband. I couldn't do that."
As Daya Shankar "DK" Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a sympathetic private detective of questionable credentials who provides Devki with much-needed information. Knowing how the information will be used, he wrestles with the legitimacy of what he is doing. Devki encourages him by asking which is worse, "the wrong or more wrong?"
Hot on the trail of these collaborators is Akshaye Khanna as police detective Mathew Francis. With Mom, Khanna returns to the screen following a five-year sabbatical. The screenplay for Mom struck just the right chord with the actor and in a Mid-Day Q&A he explained,
Mom is a beautiful story with emotional depth. There is menace, mystery and it's layered with intrigue. ...It is the kind of stuff that will stay with people. ... Mom is the kind of movie which made me feel.
In his Bollywood film directorial debut, Ravi Udyawar brings you into this story through quiet actions. Occasional non-verbal outbursts and unexpected changes in events punctuate the story, adding psychological drama to this thriller: A car driving slowly down a deserted highway stops to change drivers; Huddled against her bed, Arya looks up to see Devki and screams; Devki stands silently outside the apartment building of one of Arya's assailants.
Mom is a top-notch Bollywood thriller that we wish to see more of.
The following playlist features teasers and trailers for the film Mom.