Rating: 3/5 Stars (Three stars)
Star Cast: Manisha Koirala, Madiha Imam, Shreya Chaudhary, Iravati Harshe, Sahil Shroff
Director: Sunaina Bhatnagar
What’s Good: Manisha Koirala’s acting, the two new girls are also impressive, songs
What’s Bad: Sluggish pace
Loo Break: In the first half
Watch or Not?: Watch it for Manisha Koirala
Maya Devi (Manisha Koirala) is a Rajput lady who stays alone in a huge bungalow with her two dogs and cages full of birds in Shimla. She had a disturbed childhood as her mother fled with another man after her father’s untimely death. Her uncle made her believe that she is responsible for her fate and is not worthy of receiving love. She grows up with this belief and is single even in her forties as her uncle had shooed away suitors when the time came for her marriage. She is living the life of a recluse, does not step out of her house and even keeps her doors and windows shut as she feels that the outside world is a big bad place which will cause harm to her. She keeps herself occupied with making Himachali dolls, all of which are clad in black and look gloomy. It is needless to say that she is a topic of curiosity for her neighbours including two school girls Ira (Shreya Chaudhary) and Ana (Madiha Imam), who watch her while returning home from school every day.
Things change when Ira and Ana, after much brainstorming reach the conclusion that Maya Devi is deprived of love and only love can bring her back to normalcy. They decide to ‘send Shah Rukh Khan in Maya’s boring life’ and start penning love letters on behalf of an imaginary character Ved. Maya starts believing in every single word of the letters and her attitude towards life gradually begins to change. She is unable to guess even for once that the letters are fake and gets so immersed in Ved’s words that she sells off her house and moves to Delhi (due to a random Delhi address given in one of the letters) in search of him.
The girls meanwhile are guilt-ridden after Maya Devi goes missing and feel a strong desire to find her and confess the truth. They can now understand the damage they caused and how they ruined an innocent person’s life just for the sake of a prank.
Will they find Maya Devi? Is Maya still alive?
Dear Maya Review: Script Analysis
It’s a delight to get such a fresh script, which these days has become a rare phenomenon in Bollywood. Kudos to the scriptwriter Sunaina Bhatnagar! However, 2 hours 11 minutes is too long for a story like this. The first part has been dragged unnecessarily. The film would be equally good if it had a good 20-25 minutes chopped.
Ana and Ira’s characters are extremely relatable, so much so that one can perhaps mistake them for real. Their journey from immature teenagers to matured college girls has been beautifully penned. They experience a lot in the six years, which makes them grow up and changes them as a person.
I don’t know if people like Maya Devi exist for real but the character surely seems to be inspired by someone from the real world. She is the character you are bound to fall in love with after watching the film!
Ana’s father’s character, which has absolutely nothing to do in the film, I feel was redundant.
Dear Maya Review: Star Performance
Manisha Koirala makes a stunning comeback with the film! In the first half, she sports a de-glam look and nails it. She looks aged, ugly and is almost unrecognizable. In the second half we get to see Manisha in her beautiful avatar. Right from Maya Devi’s body language to expressions, Manisha delivers a brilliant and realistic performance. She does not have too many dialogues in the film but she proves that a talented actor does not always need dialogues to exhibit his or her acting skills. Hence, despite having limited dialogues, her expressions do the job and make us feel for Maya Devi.
The new girls, both debutantes Madiha Imam and Shreya Chaudhary are impressive. Madiha gets the lion’s share of screen space in the film (even more than Manisha Koirala perhaps) and she does not disappoint us. As for Shreya, there is a little tendency to overact here and there but overall she is good.
Iravati Harshe is impressive as usual and fits into the character of Ana’s mother with confidence.
Dear Maya Review: Direction, Music
The film is slow-paced, especially the first half. A lot of unnecessary scenes could be chopped off to make it crisp. The film gains some pace and starts becoming interesting in the second half.
Debutante director Sunaina Bhatnagar’s penchant for detailing deserves mention and the film reflects her sensitivity. I especially liked Maya Devi’s makeup, her body language as someone who never steps out of the house and the way she walks and talks and the way her bungalow is made to look like. It looks dirty and abandoned which clearly reflects Maya’s lack of interest in the life she leads. The same can be seen from the dolls she makes, all clad in black. Her life is all black and white and lacks colours.
However, a bit more focus was needed on the character introduction part. Ana’s father suddenly appears at a time when I was convinced that she is being brought up by her single mother. Also, he has nothing to do in the film and the character’s absence wouldn’t have made any difference I feel. The director doesn’t flood the film with characters, which is a good thing.
The film has a feel good factor and teaches the viewer to embrace life with positivity and optimism. It teaches us to say YES to life, always.
Sayak Bhattacharya is impressive with the cinematography.
Piano has been used beautifully in the background throughout the film. The songs composed by Anupam Roy are melodious and easy on the ears. I particularly liked Aaja Khelen Zindagi, sung by Rekha Bhardwaj and Soone Saye by Harshdeep Kaur. The lyrics by Irshad Kamil touch the heart.
Dear Maya Review: The Last Word
It is not a typical masala Bollywood film and hence will not appeal to every kind of audience. But the film will go down in history as one of Manisha Koirala’s best performances ever!
I would give Dear Maya 3 stars.
Dear Maya Trailer
Dear Maya releases on 2nd June, 2017.
Share with us your experience of watching Dear Maya.