wogma rating: Watch, but no rush (?)
An awareness film that might actually open a few minds, even if it might not change them. If only, it felt less like a lecture. (Available on Amazon Prime)Read more
With many a ‘message’ film, I feel like the makers are preaching to the choir. As in, the people who are watching the film are already on the same side as the film because they most likely know what it's about. And even if they don’t, the film is not looking to change their mind. The film’s real target audience, the ones whose minds they wish to influence, are unlikely to be convinced by a film. Every once in a while, there is a film that might have an impact. And Maja Ma, in its own convoluted way, might get a few people to question their beliefs, even if momentarily. How I wish, it had been a little less preachy and a little more engaging.
None of this undermines the film’s bravery, though. A woman in her 50s, with kids in their 20s, comes out of the closet. Whoa!
On the second count, just not doing a few distracting things would have gone a long way. Like having Rajit Kapoor, Sheeba Chaddha and Simone Singh carry accents. I understand some non-resident Indians (NRIs) do develop an accent and some put them on, especially those running for mayor. At the same time, this was done rather poorly. The quality of the accent drew attention away, so much so that it is likely to stay with me as one of the things I remember about the film.
Then there’s the preachy nature of the narrative. Sure, there are breaks from the sermons in the form of story and character development, so it’s not one long lesson. But, just when the film gets into some form of a flow, it is interrupted by someone lecturing the other—be it in the form of an activist protesting or a mother teaching something to a child or whatever. This made the experience one full of fits and starts. Not only did this break the rhythm of the story-telling, but it gave the feeling of a stalled narration.
None of this undermines the film’s bravery, though. A woman in her 50s, with kids in their 20s, comes out of the closet. Whoa! Who would have thought we would see a Hindi film with that one-line ‘what-if’? That too, the woman is played by a mainstream actor who was a star in her prime!
That Madhuri Dixit picked this project is enough for me to watch her next few films. That she hasn’t lost an iota of her grace when she dances, smiles, and just is, is a bonus. The film starts her off as a caricature of sorts and got me worried if that was what I was getting into for the next couple of hours. But as soon as her character, Pallavi, is trapped in a corner, Dixit goes mute so naturally and understandably, that you realise how nicely her character and situation were set up.
Unfortunately, that is not carried forward in the rest of the film. As in, you don’t know when her mind changes and what provokes the transition. Of course, given the nature of the film, the climax is sort of a given, hence making it predictable. Even so, it would have been nice to have some insight into what made it happen, other than bottled-up emotions.
Sure, the film is a lot about LGBQTIA+ awareness. It is also very vocal about the NRI community’s weird conservatism. In real life, I have encountered enough superficial traditionalism to find anything in the film as an exaggeration. The same goes for the extent to which parents can go when it comes to a marriage they do not approve of. The tongue-in-cheek Baghban reference had me in splits because I have heard it in real-life drawing-room conversations. Yes, plural. But, there is an artificial ring to it that doesn’t let you settle into it as reality. For instance, Pallavi’s friend, Kanchan’s (Simone Singh) overt flirting too obviously contrasts with her reality making her character seem flaky when it is far from it.
Maja Ma might get a few people to question their beliefs, even if momentarily.
That is how uneven Maja Ma is. Such valiant attempts at normalising conversation about taboo topics. But taken a little too far to seem real. A couple of honest conversations, which are rare in Hindi films. But too few of them. The broad streak of feminism is heartening, especially the comment on pedestalising women. The subtlety with which it shows how a woman is rarely asked what she wants or who she is, but even the most well-meaning people assume things about her. Only to spell it out toward the end. And as usual, I don’t know what to make of the in-the-face symbolism like that used here for ‘coming out of the closet’.
And yet, despite all of that, because it does what very few dare to do, Maja Ma is a film that we should encourage everyone around us to give a shot. Here was my attempt, while keeping it real.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...On the other hand, some of the other performances blend fluently with the ebullient mood. Gajraj Rao (as Madhuri’s supportive husband), Ninad Kamat ,Simone Singh and Shristi Shrivastava lend solid support to Madhuri Dixit’s quietly effective performance. This is a film where the flaws are easily overlooked in favour of the larger picture.... full review
Thumbs up, by Devasheesh Pandey, India TV : ...Maja Ma has a socially relevant plot and solid performances to push it across the line. It is the film of the hour and must be viewed with family. It is humourous when it needs to be and eventually an eye-opener.... full review
Thumbs up, by Rachana Dubey, Times of India : ...All in all, 'Maja Ma' is a cool family watch, which feels very relatable, at times in ways that can difficult to put into words.... full review
So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...The film, which is saying such an important thing, could have been made with a little more sensitivity. That it’s still watchable is thanks to Madhuri Dixit, who makes it all seem believable.... full review
So-So, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...As a whole, Maja Ma delivers a strong message with a festive mood, but it has got all the tough vibes going too easy for it.... full review
So-So, by Kartik Bhardwaj, the new Indian Express : ...She passes the test and when Tejas asks her how she did it, she replies “They asked the wrong questions. They asked me if I ever had sex with a woman. Instead, they should have asked me if I ever loved one, I would have happily failed.” Um, that’s not, well, never mind.... full review
So-So, by Pratikshya Mishra, The Quint : ...ADVERTISEMENT Home Entertainment Movie reviews 'Maja Ma' Review: We Need More Madhuri Dixit and More Simone Singh 'Maja Ma' Review: We Need More Madhuri Dixit and More Simone Singh 'Maja Ma', starring Madhuri Dixit and Sheeba Chaddha and Ritwik Bhowmik, is directed by Anand Tiwari. PRATIKSHYA MISHRA Published: 06 Oct 2022, 10:50 AM IST MOVIE REVIEWS 3 min read Share Share Share Share Share Comments (Spoiler Alert: This review contains minor spoilers). With the way thrillers like Forensic and Cuttputlli have been treating queer characters, I was afraid Indian cinema would fall back into Dostana-esque queer stories. But Maja Ma is an interesting exploration of an alternative. Maja Ma tells the story of Pallavi (Madhuri Dixit), a woman widely popular in her society (enough to make her husband win society elections). A mother of two, she must grapple with being outed while trying to come in terms with her sexuality. Madhuri Dixit and Ritwik Bhowmik in a still from 'Maja Ma'. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube) ADVERTISEMENT Her family consists of her husband Manohar (Gajraj Rao) and her kids Tara (Srishti Shrivastava) and Tejas (Ritwik Bhowmik). The kids' reactions to their mother's sexuality are drastically different - Tejas is worried it'll destroy his 'reputation' and Tara wants her mother to just 'come out already'. A still from 'Maja Ma'. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube) To its credit, Maja Ma attempts to challenge how both the approaches are wrong, with both of them forgetting that the situation is about Pallavi. But Madhuri Dixit doesn't. With every scene she's given, she outperforms everyone around her except Simone Singh (Kanchan), who is a delight to watch. Both Dixit and Singh have amazing chemistry as actors and it does wonders for a half-baked script. After the 134-minute runtime, I only wanted more of these two actors on screen. ADVERTISEMENT Sheeba Chaddha and Rajit Kapoor play Pam and Bob, Tejas' would-be in-laws. Their fake accents are hilarious but not that jarring (perhaps because they're both fabulous actors). A still from 'Maja Ma'. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube) They're established as extremely regressive characters (I'd be upset but the man follows Trump, so…) but their daughter Esha (Barkha Singh) 'loves them anyway'. If their characters had more dimension, they'd be more memorable but all three do the best with what is given to them. Debojeet Rey's cinematography heavily used close-ups, even when they're not necessary but the way he frames every shot makes up for it. Appropriate wide angled shots with magnificent art design and use of colour make some of the scenes as effective as they need to be. A scene where Dixit and Singh's characters are sitting in their respective rooms in front of the mirror is one such example. Maja Ma is trying to tackle a lot - homophobia, how people view queer lives purely through the lens of 'sex', the sheer danger queer people face every day, and how difficult accepting one's identity can be. But alas, the film, directed by Anand Tiwari and written by Sumit Batheja isn't mature enough to tackle the questions. It oscillates between offensive dialogues and sensitivity so often that it'll cause whiplash. The film's insistence on letting the lesbian characters (and even for consistently using the term instead of leaving it ambiguous) feel queer joy is a respite. Barkha Singh in a still from 'Maja Ma'. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube) Maja Ma spends too much time on unnecessary gags instead of fully achieving its aim. Instead what we have is a queer film with a lot of potential but little execution to support it.... full review
Thumbs down, by Soumya Srivastawa, Hindustan Times : ...Let Maja Ma be another lesson in why social comedies will never work without the ‘comedy’ bit.... full review
Thumbs down, by Shweta Keshri, india today : ...Written by Sumit Batheja and directed by Anand Tiwari, Maja Ma tries to tell the story of a lesbian woman who has been in the closet for more than 30 years and finally embraces her identity. They have dealt with the topic sensitively and not made a mockery of it. However, the film's ending is disappointing. Life is not so rosy and things don't end up being all hunky-dory. The climax act could have been a little more realistic.... full review
Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Maja Ma takes off a high flight which really gets turbulent forcing an emergency landing. This topic either required better sensitivity or class-apart humour, it has neither!... full review
Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Unfortunately, Maja Ma does not have too many scenes to remember notwithstanding Madhuri Dixit's magnetic presence. It is film that is akin to an undercooked dish whose ingredients and spices go their separate ways and do not seep into each other.... full review
Thumbs down, by Dishya Sharma, News18.com : ...Among the flaws, I appreciated that the film did not sexualise the idea of lesbians. The scenes showing the two young girls in love are dealt with simplicity and honesty. I just wished the whole movie was dealt with in a similar way.... full review
Thumbs down, by Prateek Sur, Outlook India : ...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.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.... full review
Thumbs down, by Priyakshi Sharma, Pinkvilla : ...Maja Ma’s strength lies in the thought and intention behind it. However, the movie lacks the nuance and risk that the story deserved. Apart from Madhuri Dixit’s on-screen charm, and a couple of engaging scenes, there’s hardly much to look for. Anand Tiwari’s Maja Ma is a hard pass for me.... full review
Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, Rediff : ...The actors are competent enough. Gajraj Rao, Sheeba Chaddha and Simone Singh get a couple of scenes to shine in. Madhuri Dixit's brief seems to have been to look glamorous, which she does, while others struggle to hold the film together.... full review
Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Srishti Shrivastava survives the carnage, with her portrayal of Tara giving some sense of what is at stake for Pallavi. Sheeba Chaddha has a couple of excellent scenes in which she lays bare both her prejudice and her disgust at Bob’s hypocrisy.... full review
Thumbs down, by Anuj Kumar, The Hindu : ...As the title in Gujarati suggests, the issue doesn’t come in the way of maja (fun) but the two have been blended like oil and water — superficial!... full review
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Dear Meetu, Nice review. Though the movie may be uneven, your review is so balanced as always. Love reading your reviews. I hope you get time to watch and write more movie-reviews.
Thank you @Raj. I hope so too :)
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