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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mohomaya review: Swastika Mukherjee, Ananya Chatterjee starrer is an abomination of a series, sleazy and gratuitous in equal measure

The true testament of Mohomaya's ludicrousness remains how it resists any sort of intellectual engagement. It is designed like some feverish artistic dream but unfolds like a limp nightmare.

Written by Ishita Sengupta | Mumbai |
March 28, 2021 8:55:29 pm
Mohomaya is designed like some feverish artistic dream but unfolds like a limp nightmare.

Mohomaya, the five-part series on Hoichoi, opens with a scene so agonisingly gratuitous that it puts the shady reputation of the streaming platform–peddling soft porn as creatively inert series–to shame. No words can suffice in approximating the horror but let me try. A half-naked man indulges in what is possibly the worst shot BDSM in the history of sex scenes, as a woman, her back turned to him, wears an animal mask. The digitally amplified lashing noise is punctuated by her moaning. I am assuming at this point someone from the crew thought there still remained some ambiguity.

To make his animalistic tendencies completely clear, the man says things like: “I am an animal”, and heaps of hay fall in the room on cue. The scene refuses to end. At the corner of the room his wife is tied up. Turns out this is part of her grooming, and to make things abundantly clear (again) he says things like: “you have to groan like an animal.”

Mohomaya, directed by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, tries to be a lot of things — portrait of a lonely domestic wife, a commentary on female violence and a resuscitation of Freud’s Oedipus theory. But the only thing it achieves with unflinching clarity is to be a creative outrage of aesthetic sensibilities. Across the 35-minute runtime of five episodes, two stories unfold simultaneously. One consists of a regular family residing in a palatial sort of home but for some reason have only a Scooty as their only mode of transport.

The other includes a boy, son of the aforementioned animal-empathetic couple, who keeps dreaming about his mother and expresses his love by continuously tying her up. At some point they intersect and the series devolves into a full-blown display of deranged ideas of love and obsession: a cat is killed, a girl falls from a flight of stairs like a rag doll, and saris are sniffed like it is part of some foreplay. If the premise seems incredulous, they pale before the garish visuals.

But the true testament of Mohomaya’s ludicrousness remains how it resists any sort of intellectual engagement; designed like some feverish artistic dream it unfolds like a limp nightmare. The series, starring Swastika Mukherjee, was touted as the comeback vehicle of National-award winning actor Ananya Chatterjee. The only thing she does, however, is pile on her son as a ghost asking to be tied and untied like they are playing some nursery game. In one of the most unsettling scenes, she tries stopping her husband by unhooking her blouse. Her school going son watches them from a distance. Before I could grasp, my wifi stopped working. Someone protested.

(Mohomaya is streaming on Hoichoi)

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