Niranjan Iyengar’s new short film Maa is the story of a mother grappling with the fact that her son has gone down the path of drug abuse. Exploring the theme of drug addiction may not be the most original concept of recent times but scanning it through the lens of a mother could have made for an interesting premise. But sadly, Iyengar’s Maa fails to build upon a story worth watching or getting across his point effectively.
Niranjan Iyengar’s Maa comes across as a loosely written collection of events that does not even mildly do justice to the performances of its cast. There are multiple things that are left to the imagination of the viewers in Maa. While that is not always a bad thing, here, it only leaves us with a series of common tropes (“Kyunki Maa Hoon Main Uski”) that make us question the concept of the film altogether. Take, for instance, Rohan’s (Vivaan Shah) resistance to go back home or Rishabh’s (Dino Morea) inability to take a stand against his mother for what he believes in and most importantly ‘the illegal and experimental cure,’ these are few of the many things that viewers fail to grasp in Maa.
The short ends with “Are results the only way to define the right and wrong of a decision?” and while that is a solid base to build a story on, Iyengar evidently ignores the fact that in the choice that Neena Kulkarni (the mother) faces, there is no ‘right option’, she could either have left her son to die on a drug overdose or she go for an illegal process with a 22% saving rate which we know nothing about. And Neena is set on choosing the latter since the very beginning. She doesn’t even doubt herself once, even when her elder son does.
However, that doesn’t mean that Neena’s performance is any less compelling, first, as a desperate mother adamant on saving her son by hook or by crook and second, as a person facing the consequences of the choices she made. Even Morea and Shah, for that matter look natural in front of the camera. But Iyengar’s vague plot is all to blame here.
Maa could have been an effective portrayal of the after math of drug abuse and the struggles of a mother dealing with it, but unfortunately, Iyengar doesn’t give us anything we haven’t already seen.