Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mai (2013) Hindi movie review

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The 80-year-old singer delivers a splendid performance as Mai, but the done-to-death story lets her – and you – down.
Those who have seen the trailer of Mai could very easily predict the story. You know what’s going to happen, but you wait to see how it actually happens. So what is it that makes Mai special? Good performances, delightful dialogues and some scenes that make you laugh and cry (obviously for good reason!). At the same time, the film does not overwhelm or make you think too much, because you have seen it umpteen times before on celluloid.

Mai is a heart-rending tale about a mother-daughter relationship, the lead characters portrayed by Asha Bhosle and her real-life niece Padmini Kolhapure as Madhu. It’s the same ghisa-pita story of an old woman who is no longer wanted by her children. Mai’s beloved son Munna lets her down and abandons her as soon as he lands a lucrative job in the USA. The younger two daughters also shy away from the responsibility of taking care of their aged mother, but the eldest, Madhu comes to her rescue and proves to be the only child Mai can rely upon.

At home, Madhu’s disagreements with husband Subhash (Ram Kapoor) over their responsibility to Mai get uglier; Madhu also has to contend with a tremendous amount of pressure at her workplace. Trying to maintain a fine balance between her personal and professional life, Madhu is finally forced to quit her job due to Mai’s deteriorating health. At this emotionally tearing juncture, Mai and Madhu reconnect, reminding us all that love for your parents should be eternal and not adjusted as per convenience.

Sounds familiar, no? Mai has nothing new to offer besides Asha Bhosle playing the central character who suffers from the horrendous disease, Alzheimer’s, but chances are that the film may touch many a heart. Some of the scenes are new and grab attention, like the climax where Mai shivers with pain on her hospital bed and eventually dies, or where Mrs Bhosle humorously says – Ladkiyon ko unki umar nahi poochte. Script-wise the film suffers in several places and has moments that are not convincing – for instance, there is no valid reason why a responsible journalist like Subhash refuses to take the responsibility of his mother-in-law and later suddenly changes his mind.

Hats off to the legendary 80-year-old Padma Bhushan-awardee singer-actor who has made a striking debut in and as Mai. Every movement, every cringe of Bhosle’s expressive face goes several miles to prove that she can also act. What happens to Mai in the film is something we have seen happening with a number of women who reach this difficult and delicate stage in life, when their own near and dear ones – to whom they have dedicated their whole lives – find it so easy to cast them out, neglect them and humiliate them. The problems Asha Bhosle faces with her family in the film are problems faced by women in every class and section of society today. Through its two-hour long narrative, Mai makes it clear that a girl child is not a curse, but a blessing, a point proven by the decent performance of Padmini Kolhapure, a fine actor. Despite its generally soppy feel, the film might be a winner in the emotional department, appealing to the family crowd.

Our opinion – wait for the world television premiere!

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