Sridevi is surely the tiger mom
Sridevi plays step-mom in 'Mom'. Her daughter calls her ma'am instead, since the mom also teaches her in school. But more so, because the girl's simply a brattish teenager, with a know-it-all attitude and entitlement issues that gets all of you excessively worried about teenagers anyway--unless you're a teenager yourself.
It's undoubtedly hard to raise children at that age. This film, 'Mom', showing the frightening reality of boys at 18 (or under) riding fancy bikes to school, passing on lewd videos to female classmates, snorting coke, downing beers, and generally surveying the much reviled farm-house party scene of Delhi (last observed perceptively in No One Killed Jessica, on the Jessica Lal murder case) is not going to further help a parent's frayed nerves.
How much of this scene is true? That obviously depends on how paranoid you are as a parent. But the fact is your teenaged child not returning home from a Valentine's Day do, much after midnight, in a city like Delhi, when she's supposed to hail/call a cab back, will give you a minor cardiac arrest, even if nothing happens. Here, something does happen. The girl is kidnapped, and raped.
This is, in journalese or cop-speak, a "high-profile" case. The first line of cops, who come to investigate this, is led by a suave super-sleuth (Akshaye Khanna). In the real world, it'd probably be a sloppy 'thulla', like the Noida cops in 'Talvar' (based on the Aarushi murder).
Either way, this is, to use the other cliché, an 'open and shut case'. Except, justice is blind, so it can technically be hand-held and led by unscrupulous lawyers to wherever you'd like it to, since evidence is scant or can even be tampered with. The parents, along with the child therefore, must suffer the double humiliation of what happened on the said night, and what continued to happen to them thereafter.
Taking it all in is the mom, of course. Frankly, there's very little in this film that you haven't already seen before--the night, the rape, the parents, and the law. Even as the filmmakers effectively employ their talent to treat it differently--the fresh ensemble cast, the characters, most notably the aged local detective (Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in fine form as always), the vertical top-shots, or some equally fine passages of photography and production design.
From an audience's perspective, what will make this most special still is Sridevi. This is her 300th film, I'm presuming, as the protagonist! Despite a phenomenally prolific career -- especially when stars have become so publicly accessible -- it's astounding how she's managed to maintain an irresistible mystique around herself.
It's a big deal to see her on screen, let alone that there are hardly any worthwhile scripts with a woman at 53 in the lead. If there was one, it would be written for Sridevi -- undoubtedly the female Amitabh Bachchan of her times. And she gives it her all. Speaking of which, Bachchan's done 'Paa', it's only fair that 'Mom' is Sri's movie.
But this is more along the lines of Big B's 'Pink', for the world it is set in, if not the point it's trying to make. Which is, as Sridevi's character puts it, "Ghalat aur bahut ghalat mein se chunna ho, toh aap kya chunenge (What if you had to choose between bad and terrible?)" It sounds like the state of politics in this country. But is effectively a statement on seeking revenge, poetic justice, and redemption. The thought might make you understandably uncomfortable. It should. But it serves the purposes of this picture quite well.
And while most thrillers tend to overstay their welcome beyond 90-minutes' screen time, this one doesn't feel almost two-and-half hours long. If anything, far too much is going on here. You might question a lot. But so much of it works.