I did it! I saw Mom! Even though it meant screeching out of work the second it hit 5pm and fighting rush hour traffic to make the 5:30 show. Because I had to rush home tonight so I would have time to work on my mother’s birthday present. Which is thematic, I guess! Anyway, it’s a good movie, but don’t be fooled by the artsy film stock and stuff, this is a straight up potboiler action film as over the top and satisfying as anything from Sunny Deol.
What makes this film revolutionary is centering it on the mother’s story. What makes it really revolutionary is that nothing else is revolutionary. This isn’t the mother having a kinder gentler attitude, this is the mother being just as vicious and violent as the father or the boyfriend or the brother would be in a different movie.
And that’s kind of all I can say without spoiling the movie! So, NO MORE PLOT!!!! If you want plot, hop on over to the SPOILER review that will be going up shortly.
Instead, let’s talk other non-plot stuff. Sridevi is amazing, of course. And what is really interesting is the way she is playing herself. That is, a wealthy housewife and mother in drapey Manish Malhotra clothing (he got a special credit for doing just her costumes and no one else’s) moving around an urban environment. In English/Vinglish, we could all see how great Sridevi was as an actress because she was playing such a different character, with the saris and the hesitation and everything. But in this film, she could so easily be just herself, like we see her in photoshoots and so on. Only, instead, it is Sridevi but slightly different. Which is fascinating.
(Still from the movie that could just as easily be a still from a photoshoot)
Her family were okay acting too, did the job. The daughter actress, Sajal Ali, was really good in the few scenes she had. Nawazuddin was, of course, brilliant. But we’ve kind of come to expect that from him. Mostly in fact I found him not that impressive. At least, not that impressive on the Nawazuddin curve of things. He had crazy make-up and a wig and an elaborate accent/pan mouth thing going on. All the tics kind of felt like they were hiding the character instead of revealing it. But, maybe, that was the point? His character was supposed to be someone who hid himself in plain sight? Oh, and then in his very last scene he does this little hand gesture that is just brilliant and makes you go “oh yeah, that’s Nawazuddin all right!”
You know who was just brilliant and amazing and almost stole the movie from Sridevi? AKSHAYE!!!! Once again, he rewards our patience with an incredibly entertaining and varied and clever kind of performance. Just, phenomenal.
And such great energy with Sridevi! A different kind of actor would have put on all this macho vibe and would sort of overwhelm her female vibe. But Akshaye kind of complimented it, he stayed small onscreen, small and clever, instead of big and aggressive.
Music! I’ll talk about music! Rahman did the soundtrack! Did not know that! Not just the songs either, he did background music too. And a lot of his old songs were sort of dribbled in the background. I wouldn’t say it is his all time greatest album (still think that’s Rang De Basanti), but it’s also not a total throwaway album (like Mohenjo Daro). He was experimenting a little with a kind of modern female empowerment sound. Weaving together classical for the deeper moments, youthful and pop and kind of shallow for the teen moments, and a little more sort of lament-y and adult for the “Mom” moments. No real song sequences or anything like that, but with him doing the background music as well as the songs, it all kind of wove together and in and out of the whole film. Incredibly effective in controlling the audience moods.
Okay, I guess the only other thing to talk about is the look of the film. There are a lot of really clever little edits. And the action sequences make sense and are filmed clearly, all of that. But mostly what struck me was the contrast between the very grounded and clean and modern look of the film, and the old-fashioned feel of it once you got past the look. This is, essentially, a story of Kali Maa dressed up on couture clothing.
(A modern remix of this song would have fit in perfectly)