When we solve a jigsaw puzzle, we find different pieces from a given set to connect them and complete the picture. Director Anushree Mehta does something similar with her movie “Mrs Undercover”. Unlike the puzzle, she chooses her pieces to create a perception, most of which references to the 2018 movie “Raazi” directed by Meghna Gulzar and the 2012 Sujoy Ghosh directorial “Kahaani”.

Radhika Apte plays ‘Durga’, a homemaker who is an undercover spy from the ‘Special Force’ living with her ‘cover’ family for more than ten years. She obeys her patriarchal husband and takes care of her son and the in-laws. Suddenly, one day she is assigned to solve the case of a serial killer called ‘Common Man’ played by the charismatic Sumeet Vyas. He is an anti-feminist who kills strong-minded women, superior to him or anyone who even tries to be. As you can tell, he is a self-obsessed, egoistic, brutal man who even counts the number of women he kills. In a scene, while on a date, designed to bring out the typical contradictory shades of a psychopath, he says to a girl, “Jo log jokes par haste hai woh bade sadistic hote hai. Kisi aur ko takleef me dekh ke unko bada maza aata hai.”

The screenplay written by Abir Sengupta along with Anushree Mehta is shabby and flat. There is less ambition for the lead character ‘Durga’ to take on the assignment unless someone’s dialogue turns on the bulb. Most of the first half is spent convincing her to choose a mission that is for her country’s well-being rather than her family and that too when she is a spy agent. We dive into Anushree Mehta’s world where the special force officer talks about private matters of the department in a crowded public vehicle. They talk about these issues as if corporate employees were gossiping about their bosses at the tea stall.

There is not much ‘dialogue-baazi’ in the film other than the feminist lessons which pop up in every other frame. Some of them are doses of being called ‘just a housewife’ or some monologist phrases on women empowerment. There is nothing much for an actor like Radhika Apte to bring to the table whose filmography includes “Andhadhun”, “Phobia” and many more.

The plot is too stretched which makes this one-hour-and-forty-seven-minute film feel longer than its runtime. What works well is the exposure to some parts of Kolkata which includes the lanes of Kumartuli (a historical locality in Kolkata where most of the sculptures are made for Durga Puja), and some shots at the Victoria Memorial.

Some characters and movies I remembered after watching Mrs Undercover were, ‘Shabana’ from “Naam Shabana” (2017) and ‘Sehmat’ from “Raazi” (2018), both of which did a much better job in the spy genre than this one.

You can watch “Mrs. Undercover” on Zee5.


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