Ashtar Sayed’s “Maatr” (Mother) is a regulation revenge thriller in which a school teacher sets out to avenge the rape and death of her teenage daughter.
Vidya Chauhan (Raveena Tandon), who was also raped, is crushed by her daughter’s death and the disintegration of her already crumbling marriage.
One of the rapists is the son of the chief minister (Madhur Mittal) and Vidya knows she doesn’t stand a chance at justice.
As she picks up the pieces of her broken life, she chances upon one of the perpetrators, and is seized with a sudden desire for revenge. What changes in Vidya that transforms her from a meek, broken woman to a vendetta-seeking machine, we are never told or shown.
She hunts the rapists, tracks their movements and exacts revenge one by one, walking away scot-free each time thanks to a script (Michael Pellico) that has gaping holes.
Vidya can be traced to pretty much each murder location and barely makes an attempt to cover her tracks, but she doesn’t face the consequences of her actions.
Sayed and Pellico draw inspiration from the Korean film “Don’t Cry Mommy”, but Indianise it to include references to the 2012 Delhi gang-rape, and to powerful politicians whose offspring get away with heinous crimes.
Vidya carries out her vendetta alone, not involving her artist friend Ritu (Divya Jagdale) despite living in the same house after separating from her husband Ravi (Rushad Rana).
The second half of “Maatr” follows a predictable pattern, and neither the methods of revenge nor their results are new. The film makes a hero out of a wronged underdog, and the invincible villains who commit atrocities in the first half fall like nine pins in the second.
Thankfully, director Sayed keeps it short, resisting the temptation to segue into melodrama. He sticks to a few montage scenes between Vidya and her daughter.
Raveena Tandon, in her first full-fledged movie role in six years, is the other saving grace. She is hardly known for her acting prowess, but makes a sincere attempt in “Maatr” to depict the agony of a mother in the throes of guilt and grief.