‘Maja Ma’: Cast & Crew
Director: Anand Tiwari
Cast: Madhuri Dixit Nene, Gajraj Rao, Ritwik Bhowmik, Srishti Shrivastava, Rajit Kapoor, Sheeba Chaddha, Simone Singh, Barkha Singh, Ninad Kamat, Kevin Dave
Available On: Amazon Prime Video
Duration: 2 Hours 14 Minutes
‘Maja Ma’: Story
A rumour about Pallavi Patel (Madhuri Dixit Nene), a quintessential, middle-aged, devoted housewife who is famous for her dance and cooking, threatens to disrupt her middle-class family's ethos, on the eve of her son Tejas' (Ritwik Bhowmik) engagement with a rich, NRI girl Esha (Barkha Singh). Will Pallavi be able to hide the age-old truth about her life that she has been hiding for over 25 years? Or will the truth finally come out and disrupt her family? Will Tejas ever get married Esha? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
‘Maja Ma’: Performances
Madhuri Dixit Nene comes up with a very nuanced and layered performance. Going from the exuberant and full-of-life mother and Garba dancer to becoming the quiet and quaint woman who’s confused about her sexuality, Madhuri Dixit Nene changes between emotions with the drop of a hat. Her expressions have always been her forte and even in ‘Maja Ma’ that's excellent. To add to that, her dance is simply awe-inspiring. Even at this age, when she dances, you’re compelled to leave your seats and dance with her.
Barkha Singh is one of the only ones in the cast who has caught up with the US accent perfectly. Even though she has a lesser screen space, but manages to leave you impressed with her sweet performance.
Gajraj Rao is surprisingly not that good. He and Pankaj Tripathi have always been actors who’ve always shined even in smaller 2-minute roles. Rao has always brought out certain nuances in the character that even the writers while writing the script must have not thought of. But sadly, that is missing in ‘Maja Ma’ completely. He is just there.
Ritwik Bhowmik has done quite well in the numerous web series’ that he has done in the past. Here too he manages to bring out quite a relatable performance of a young boy who’s blinded by his devotion towards his mom. His coming-of-age act is decent.
Rajit Kapoor’s NRI act is outlandish and too over the top. His accent, even though perfect, doesn’t suit his persona, and it feels a bit forced.
Sheeba Chaddha’s act too is too forced. Haven’t seen her try a US accent ever before, and till the time she bursts out in a Punjabi accent at the end, her performance looks too forced. She too always brings something unique to all her characters even if it's small, but in ‘Maja Ma’, besides the fake accent, there is nothing more that comes from her end.
Srishti Shrivastava is getting too stereotyped as the outspoken sister character. She has been doing so in quite a number of characters in the past, and this too just looks like an extension of any of those characters he has been performing in any of her digital shows. She really needs to pick up characters which show her versatility much better.
‘Maja Ma’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects
Anand Tiwari’s direction is the weakest link in this film. I admit, showing the mother’s coming out as a lesbian story is a bold move. But where the direction falters is the way the coming out is shown. It happens because of the would-be in-laws of her son. The in-laws have been staying in the US for over 30 years and their accents are too thick for anyone to tell that they’re actually Punjabis. So, when you’ve adapted to the western lifestyle in such a way and for so many years, it’s quite strange to see that they’ve not yet adapted to the LGBTQ community. People who’ve stayed in the US for that many years don’t bother about whether anyone is gay, lesbian, or otherwise. I would have understood had they not accepted it in their son/daughter, but that’s not the case here. They’re very understanding of all decisions of their daughter, but when it comes to the mother-in-law of their daughter, they’re bothered about how her sexuality is going to affect their reputation. Seems quite strange, and pedestrian of a thought process. Dialogues like ‘these Indians are killing our culture’ coming from a character that has been in the US for over 3 decades doesn’t suit up. A lot of it feels like a forced outrage. Had the other uncle aunties in the society only reacted this way, it would have felt genuine, but not coming from people who were staying in the US for such a long time.
The writing by Sumit Batheja is good considering he picked up a plot that is very woke. Not many writers would have dared to show a middle-class mother as a lesbian. They would much rather go the other way around showing the daughter or the son as lesbian or gay and then showing how the family and society accept the same. But Batheja’s kickass move of reversing the generation which is coming out as LGBTQ is killed by some very lacklustre direction which kills the concept and makes it look very uninspiring.
The music of the film by Souumil Shringarpure, Siddharth Mahadevan, Gourov Dasgupta and Anurag Sharma is definitely a delight. Songs like Boom Padi, Kacchi Doriyaan and Ae Pagli are definitely a must-have in your playlists this season.
Sanyukta Kaza’s editing is also another thing to be blamed. The story which should be been quite uncomplicated has unnecessarily been dragged to about 134 minutes. There are numerous scenes which could have had the scissors, and the movie should have been brought down to about 2 hours.
Debojeet Ray’s cinematography doesn’t match up that much with the setting. While they’re trying to show up a small town, when it comes to the interiors of say the society office or the yoga hall, they look so very modern and urban. Even some of the sequences during the festivities have been lit in a way that they look quite unnatural. Yes, during Navaratri the lights are more, and the setting can look too bright, but not at odd angles. The detailing of that could have been a bit more considering it's Amazon Prime Video’s first India original.
‘Maja Ma’: Can Kids Watch It?
Madhuri Dixit is the only thing working in favour of this movie. Rest everything is over-the-top without too much of logical explanations. The woke concept picked up by Anand Tiwari is good, but showing a downtrodden patriarchal path to achieve the goal is not the best way forward. Watch ‘Maja Ma’ only for some great Garba numbers and Madhuri Dixit Nene’s awesome dance on them. Rest Avoid. I am going with 2 stars.