The film will leave you disturbed. But for different reasons. I was disturbed because I wanted to like the movie, and indeed appreciated parts of it, but didn't like it as a whole. And that upset me enough to hang around in the theatre, pondering?
For one, as a viewer, I am tired of seeing female protagonists raped, assaulted, or killed in women-centric movies. Dear filmmakers, you do know other things happen to women right? Other things that are also noteworthy and capable of being made into a film about them?
Mom is interestingly about a step-mother trying to bond with her teenage daughter. The daughter (Sajal Ali, impressive) out for an innocuous party with friends when a rejected classmate and his cronies kidnap and gang-rape her, leaving her to die in a gutter. The mom, played with heart-wrenching passion and heart by Sridevi, then is faced with this question -"If you had to choose between doing something wrong and something very wrong, what would it be?" Cops and detectives become a part of the narrative as the story trudges along, now emotional, now filmy and affected.
Thankfully, the victim is shown recovering, a better alternative than the suicide routine shown in our films.
But the 'Terrible Things That Happen to Women' sub-genre only serves to increase the fear narrative. It discourages more than encourages. And (spoiler ahead), apart from the satisfaction of the culprits being avenged, what's the point really?
It's like the TV series 'Game of Thrones' with one derogatory dialogue after the other about women, but we still watch it because it shows the rudimentary thinking of the protagonists belonging to an era. But this practice has upset many. Because the makers of GOT are from 'this' era and are writing down these dialogues and including them with choice.
A film that's truly liberating will be about empowering women (not after assault, necessarily) rather than showing them as victims again and again.
I know moms whom this film will affect badly. Do they worry any less, that they need to see a movie about their teenage daughter going to a party (another objection I have to this movie) and getting assaulted? Doesn't this reconfirm a parent's worst fear? In fact, society's greatest fear and also it's greatest tactic! Why make films that make us more fearful?
They do the same job as newspapers (which this writer has stopped subscribing to since a year and is happier for it); which is "highlighting" an issue that everyone is anyway aware of, without offering any practical or doable solution.
So it becomes like a borrowed-from-fact-but-fictional tale, with bits of the 'filmy masala' thrown in, like Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a wig, and Akshaye Khanna playing the cool cop who creepily appears in the remotest of locations.
At best, the film is trying to talk about a very worrying issue and attempts to bring it in focus. At worst, they've made a movie around a mega-star using real- life cases to bring about a hard hitting story.
There's a saying that goes 'What you think will grow'. Which is why wise ones ask you to think about what you want, not what you don't. As a believer of this adage, films like this, however accomplished and well-intentioned, but concentrating on assault against women and revenge with no conclusion/thought/solution, are of no service. Least of all, entertainment.