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Out of the many things that add to director Nishikant Kamat’s topical and powerful film, ‘Madaari,’ Irrfan Khan stands the tallest. One can almost take it for granted that if a film has Irrfan in it, he will steal the show right under the noses of others around him, be it Deepika Padukone or even the legendary Amitabh Bachchan in Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Piku’. To be honest, ‘Madaari’ rides on two forces, first its subject, and then the leading man Irrfan Khan as Nirmal Kumar. The makers have already set the tone for what happens in the film, thanks to a well cut trailer. The opening lines mouthed by Irrfan further establishes the fact that there are more than just a few surprises in store, but what unfolds in ‘Madaari’ is something beyond expectations.

The film begins with a montage of all the things that are ailing our country today – mostly corruption in politics and the side effects of it, which the common man has to deal with. The footage that is shown seems to be sourced from YouTube, because of its poor quality. ‘Madaari’ could have been easily sold as a sequel to director Neeraj Pandey’s thriller, the Naseeruddin Shah-Anupam Kher-starrer, ‘A Wednesday’. That is perhaps because that is the nature of a film in this genre. The pattern is similar – a common man has a problem with the system, and one fine day he decides that enough is enough, and that there’s no point waiting for justice to be served. It is inspiring to see an empowered common man taking the system head on, with all the odds stacked against him.

The usual problem with Bollywood films is that they come with the curse of the second half – most of the films tend to lose steam in the second half, and the audience, in turn, loses interest. In ‘Madaari’ it is the opposite – nothing much happens in the first half, but the second half is so loaded that one has very little to complain about, other than the fact that one can’t help but notice the similarities in between ‘Madaari’ and ‘A Wednesday’. This is Nishikant Kamat’s seventh film as a director, and it will only be fair to say that his core strength as a storyteller lies in addressing the issues faced by everyday people. Irrfan had played the role of a common man in Nishikant’s critically acclaimed and award winning film, ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’.

‘Madaari’ is the story of a father seeking justice after being rudely awakened by the flaws of the system, or the politics of the times that we are living in, and have been living in, since India became an independent nation. There is a similarity between ‘Madaari’ and Kundan Shah’s cult comedy that released in 1983 – it involves a bridge that collapsed because of corrupt politicians. Sad as it is, but looks like the country is still stuck in that time and age, only that things have become far worse, or so it seems. It came as a surprise when the makers have pointed out the flaws in the present day ruling party, without it being muted by the CBFC – watch the film and you will know what we mean. And yes, using social media as a tool to push the story forward was really refreshing.

Without giving away too much about ‘Madaari’, one can only say two things – films like these are important, they need to be made and watched by one and all. Also, if you have Irrfan Khan in your film, it’s more than half the battle won. Worth a mention here are Jimmy Sheirgill, who plays the role of Nachiket Verma, who for no substantial reason is chosen to crack this case, Tushar Dalvi who plays the role of the Home Minister, and child actor Vishesh Bansal, who plays the role of his son. These performances will hopefully be remembered, as they are few and far in between. There’s a song that sticks out like a sore thumb, but there’s another that adds to the euphoria of the second half, towards the climax, but they don’t really belong to film of this genre.

To cut the long story short, Nishikant Kamat’s ‘Madaari’ is a must watch this weekend, if only for Irrfan Khan’s terrific strike as the common man once again, and the unpredictable second half that will leave you biting your nails.