Scene from "Mom"

Sridevi and Sajal Ali in Mom

Produced by Boney Kapoor, who has 30 Bollywood films to his credit, and starring his wife Sridevi, a superstar of Hindi cinema at her 300th film, Mom is the feature film debut by Ravi Udayawar. Sridevi plays the titular mother, Devki, a biology teacher in high school. Sajal Ali is her stepdaughter Arya; they live in Delhi, with their businessman husband/father (Adnan Siddiqui) and a younger daughter/sister (Riva Arora). The teenage girl still misses her deceased mother, adores her father and has not accepted his new wife as her mother.  When Arya is gang-raped by four men who abduct her from a party, then left for dead in a ditch, Devki has an extreme emotional reaction. Despite the girl’s testimony, a jury does not convict the rapists, and Arya falls into catatonic despair. Her mother decides to take it upon herself to avenge her daughter, with the help of a private detective (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), raising the suspicions of the police investigator (Akshaye Khanna). She enlists the help of prostitutes to castrate one, poisons another, implicates the third in his murder, shoots the fourth. Only after all four rapists are dead, does Arya embrace Devki and calls her “Mom.”

The director explains that he was inspired by the Indian theory of Rasas or aesthetics, stating: “I’m enthralled by how in a relationship unspoken words create a silent poetry of human complexity.”

Mom deals with parental love, honor, disgust, compassion, fury, courage, peace, and these emotions are expressed through a visual vocabulary of different color palettes, from black to white to red, blue and purple. When the girl lies half-dead, the painting “Ophelia” by John Everett Millais is referenced.

The actress Sridevi says: “We are lucky to have a director who is very easy to work with, so he helped us a lot, and working with such great actors really kept me on my toes. I still feel like a newcomer, for every character you have to be honest and spontaneous.”