The theme of the common man as hero continues. In Madaari, he is angry and far, far from being a passive bystander. He has lost a loved one in the complex machinery of corruption and politics and is baying for blood. Armed with the contemporary weapon of social media and imbued with the historic ideal of honesty, he seeks visceral revenge on the system. It takes you less than 40 minutes into the film to figure this out while director Nishikant Kamat takes an agonising 135 minutes to reveal the plot.
The 7-year-old son of the country's home minister, Prashant Goswami (Tushar Dalvi), has been kidnapped from his posh boarding school in the hills while he had snuck out for a midnight street snack with his friend. The entire national machinery, including the intelligence agencies and the armed forces are promptly deployed – after all, if the top men of the nation can't locate their missing children whose lives are more important than the lives of those they rule over, what faith will the aam aadmi repose in them?
Nirmal Kumar (Irrfan Khan), an average joe going about his daily life—his wife left him for a better life in the US—finds joy and meaning in taking care of his young son. (New single father actor Tushar Kapoor take note?) He is, what he later calls himself, the 'ideal' voter—doesn't question, isn't politically aware and doesn't quite care. Till tragedy hits home. From aam he comes to khaas.
Khan, his usual stellar self, portrays a fair range of emotions—father in deep shock and anguish, suicidal human being on the verge of giving up, the angry tech expert—metamorphosing into a man seeking slow revenge. He aims to brings the grand Machiavellian machinery to a grinding halt till he gets his answers. What unfolds is a chase half way across the country till the common man and the machinery come face to face.
Apart from pointing out the obvious nexus of corruption and scams among those in power, the film seeks to point out the critical role of the media in the unfurling—clips from real-time protests, news articles about man-made disasters, including falling bridges—going from shrill mass reportage, political pressures, coming to rest upon simply stating the truth in the larger public good.
Curiously, everyone across the board seems to be able to afford a particular brand of laptops, the name of which finds its way smartly into one of the dialogues.
The kidnapped precocious child, Rohan Goswami (Vishesh Bansal), is symptomatic of a hyper-aware generation being brought up on a digital diet—he is familiar with issues of child abuse and terms like Stockholm Syndrome.
The penultimate scene where Kumar demands accountability at gunpoint from all those responsible is compelling and the best part of this otherwise quite a stretch of a film.
**Film: Madaari Director: Nishikant Kamat Cast: Irrfan Khan, Jimmy Shergill, Tushar Dalvi Rating: 3/5**