Mrs Undercover (Zee5)

Cast – Radhika Apte, Sumeet Vyas, Angana Roy, Rudrashish Majumder, Varun Nag, Rajesh Sharma, Laboni Sarkar

Rating: *

There is no polite way of saying this. Mrs Undercover is a terrible terrible film. It keeps talking endlessly about women’s empowerment, sometimes called ‘woman empowerment’ by Bengali women trying to sound cute, and tries to feel empowered by showing the men in the worst possible light.

The sheepish Shero Durga’s husband Dev(Saheb Chatterjee) has an extra-marital affair right under her nose with his neighbour . When Durga confronts him he flares his nostrils and puffs up his chest to tell her, “I can do these things.I am a man.”

Who talks like that any more? To put the pulpy patriarch in his place, the script makes Durga rescue her husband from kidnappers, thereby justifying her name. Thank God she was not named Kali.

Director Anushree Mehta falls back on all the clichés of kitschy feminist cinema: a doormat housewife who dreams of being a bhendi bazaar version of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill,a killer on the prowl (Sumeet Vyas) who murders any woman who tries to empower women. “I don’t know what happens to me when women talk of empowerment,” he tells one his victims before snuffing her.

I lost count of the number of times women and men bring up empowerment on screen while the narrative with its stilted views on empowerment ,dismantles every attempt to make a hero out of its housewife protagonist.

Apte so brilliant recently as a feisty( and yes, empowered) cop in Monica My Darling is reduced to a caricature of an empowered Bharatiya Nari .She gets to do action and she gets to be funny on screen. She even gets dance on stage for the climax. Even Sridevi wouldn’t be able to pull of this multi-tasking heroine’s spasmodic feminism.

The rest of the cast is either disempowered by drivel or driven to despair by the rampant coarseness of the film’s message on housewifely drudgery. Rajesh Verma as an undercover agent named Rangeela gets the award for the most exasperating espionage clown in the history of spy cinema.

Yes, the film is funny. But in all the wrong places. We are supposed to laugh when Durga’s father-in-law’a senile condition is ridiculed. We are supposed to clap and cheer when Durga diffuses a bomb at a college function where the, sigh, empowered Durga proves what we didn’t need to know: never mess with a housewife because she can cut low-hanging balls faster than bhindis.

Mrs Undercover is woefully amateurish in its efforts to yoke a serial-killer plot with outdated feminist sermons .Way too ambitious for its own good, the film just falls into an exhausted messy heap.