YouTube time this week, and I wanted to check out films I had missed watching in recent years that were officially available on the app. After trying a couple of Nepali movies and barely making it through more than 45-minute each, I gave up and searched for some Bollywood flicks, expecting to find something that’d delight me.
I came across the trailer for the 2016 Bollywood thriller “Madaari” and the first few scenes with the late Irrfan Khan delivering massive punchlines blew me over. I had to find the movie online, which I luckily did on Cinekorn Movie’s YouTube channel.
Madaari is a movie cliché: a story about a common man fighting the system as we’ve seen in hundreds of films. But its protagonist Nirmal Kumar (Khan) is the anti-hero we all want to be. He is not this larger-than-life fighter who literally punches his way through the walls of social injustice or the trigger-friendly vigilante who blows up ‘villains’. Kumar is a common man who is wronged by the system and instead of accepting it as his fate he plans to fight against it. He is determined, yet scared; calculative yet vulnerable.
Rohan (Vishesh Bansal), the only son of Home Minister Prashant Goswami (Tushar Dalvi), gets kidnapped from his hostel one day. Following the high-profile kidnapping, there’s a storm of investigations all over the city, led by CBI officer Nachiket Verma (Jimmy Sheirgill). The kidnapper has vanished without a trace with Rohan and the only ransom he demands is that the government finds the whereabouts of his son, who was lost in an act of government negligence. Our protagonist Nirmal is the kidnapper here and as the story unfolds, the audience realizes what made him turn from a loving family man to a ruthless kidnapper.
This is the story of Madaari written by Shailja Kejriwal and Ritesh Shah (screenplay/dialogue). The writers have taken a cliché and weaved the narration with suspense, mystery, and a lot of emotion. Kumar’s fight becomes every common person’s and the fact that he is a kidnapper (sic criminal) is lost as we empathize with him and want to see him get justice. But what happens, in the end, is for you to find out.
The year 2016 saw the release of ‘blockbusters’ like “Sultan” and “Dangal”. Understandable why a film like Madaari would have been neglected by Bollywood audiences and the critics alike at the time. Still, one can’t feel sorry for how such a gripping thriller remains obscure. Maybe because it does not appeal to the larger masses without high-flying action sequences and peppy item numbers.
Also, the film’s not perfect. There are a few lapses in the screenplay and the 2h 13mins-long film tends to lose pace at times, but the better parts make up for everything. Nishikant Kamat’s direction seems to bring out the best in Irrfan Khan, who embodies the soul of his character. Even the film’s dialogues with heavy punchlines feel tailored for Khan’s voice. Khan expresses every word with the conviction of an everyday man the system has driven to desperation.
In the scenes with Rohan, his victim Nirmal never bears the maliciousness of a kidnapper. He is still a harmless, caring father desperately seeking closure. The complexities in Nirmal’s life and how well Khan peels each layer of his character’s existence drive the film. The supporting cast also comes with its share of convincing performances but Khan is the film’s heart and soul.
Who should watch it?
Most film lovers who like my selection of films have probably already watched Madaari. This is the kind of film you can revisit every few years. If you haven’t watched, you’ve missed an important film that defines the career of late Khan. Khan, in this movie, reinforces his legacy and goes on to prove no one else can replace him in the industry. His flawless performance in this film will make you miss him even more.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Drama, thriller
Actors: Irrfan Khan, Tushar Dalvi, Jimmy Sheirgill
Director: Nishikant Kamat
Run time: 2hrs 13 mins