There are Spoilers in this review

The moment the heavily pregnant Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) gets down from her taxi-cab, the audience reacts to her with empathy. They are scared for her, she looks like she is about to give birth any moment. The reaction is almost physical – you want to reach out and help her up the stairs or want to put her feet up and make her rest. The audience misses a heartbeat every time she stops wearily in her search for her missing husband. How can she bear this alone?

The character pulls at every heart string to make the audience believe in who she is… a helpless pregnant woman who is nevertheless so in love with her husband that she will fight for his existence. She has the other characters in the film also believe her story. It’s easy to empathize with a pregnant woman, easier to underestimate her.

Vidya Balan lives her role in the film and convinces us right up to the end taking us and the villain in surprise – he is predictable, he hits her where she is most vulnerable – in her stomach. The audience gasps when the prosthetic stomach is pulled out – when she turns into the cold-blooded warrior stalking her prey and killing him.

I would have like the story to end there, she is a soldier, and she does her duty.  But most of us want our warrior women to be in the image of the mother-goddesses  and here too the killing scenes are accompanied by images of blood red Durga in Calcutta. Vidya too was a mother. At the end moments of the film, it is shown that the villain was responsible not just for her husband’s death but the shock of which had resulted in miscarriage. At that moment, a early scene in the film where Vidya clutches her stomach and cries heartbroken makes poignant sense.

The nod to religious icons aside, it was a rare pleasure to watch a good actress essay a role and a carry an entire film.


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