Dear Maya movie cast: Manisha Koirala, Madiha Imam, Shreya Chaudhary, Irawati Harshe
Dear Maya movie director: Sunaina Bhatnagar
Dear Maya movie star rating: 2 stars
Dear Maya is the coming-of-age of three people whose fates are unexpectedly connected by an action: two giggly teenage girls and a woman who has attained middle age without having grown up. The plot has promise, but the film works in fits and starts, realising its potential only partially.
Maya Devi (Manisha Koirala) is a Miss Havisham like black-robed recluse, her face as bleak as her shuttered house. For company she has two great Danes, several birds in cages, and a bad-tempered retainer.
She becomes the object of fascination for two 16 year old school-girls, Ana (Madiha Imam) and Ira (Shreya Chaudhary). They weave tales around her, wondering about her isolation and loneliness, and one day, pull a prank which has long-lasting consequences.
We get some lively exchanges between the two girls, and a sense of real friendship, all giggles and secrets, especially in the first half, which is set in scenic Shimla. First crushes, shy exchanges with boys, sort of dates, and parental ire: it’s all there.
But the film unravels when the action shifts to Delhi, leaping forward six years. The girls are no longer friends, and Maya Devi has vanished. The contrivances pile up, as do the stretched parts.
We watch because of the performances. Madiha Imam, a Pakistani actress, is fine (except she also comes off far too polished in her college girl avatar: why are Bollywood’s college girls so annoyingly groomed?). Chaudhary looks the part, but gets a little stilted.
But it’s good to have Manisha Koirala back. She is not scared to present an unvarnished, weathered face: there’s a lovely scene in which she tastes something for the first time, and smiles. She lights up. It is a moment.
Will this lead to more, better roles for ‘senior’ actors like Koirala? I hope so, because she is, like Madhuri, Sridevi, Deepti Naval, a seasoned performer, capable of carrying a film, and adding substantively to it.
Where are the filmmakers?