Film: Maja Ma
Director: Anand Tiwari
Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Gajraj Rao, Ritwik Bhowmik, Simone Singh, Rajit Kapur, Sheeba Chaddha, Barkha Singh
Ma in our cinema is an epitome of purity and perfection. As her much-loved son wants to marry a girl of her choice, this mother has to choose between her truth and societal diktats. Anand Tiwari-directed Maja Ma, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, has the gorgeous Madhuri Dixit at the heart of the story, which treats a sensitive subject in a comic way to begin with. Written by Sumit Batheja, it brings winning partners of Bandish Bandits, Amritpal Singh Bindra (he’s a producer of Maja Ma) and Anand Tiwari, together.
Baroda’s Tejas Patel (Ritwik Bhowmik) is living in America. He falls in love with Esha Hansraj (Barkha Singh), who belongs to a business family with a political clout. Her parents Bob and Pam Hansraj (Rajit Kapur and Sheeba Chaddha) want a clean, virgin Indian boy for their daughter dearest, and our hero is able to pass a lie detector test that proves his love for the girl is genuine; he’s neither after the green card nor the wealth that comes with the match.
The scene now moves to India as the Hansrajs, with their daughter in tow, come to meet the family ensuring that they are ‘authentic’ Indians. After all the Hansraj forefathers went to America with only 20 dollars, sanskars and swabhiman! Tejas has cleared the ‘test’ but his parents — Pallavi and Manohar Patel (Madhuri Dixit and Gajraj Rao) - have to. As they carry on with their very Indian ways, a blast from the past puts the celebrations on halt. Now Pallavi must clear her name from a viral video which shows that despite being a doting mother, devoted wife, amazing cook, a wonderful painter and a super dancer, she isn’t that pure and perfect. A lie detector test awaits her!
The film opens with a ludicrous plot and ‘caricaturish’ characters trying to make light of a significant LGBTQIA+ issue. Tejas is at loggerheads with his sister Tara (Srishti Shrivastava), who is in a long distance marriage and a champion of queer rights. They take dramatically opposite stands on dealing with their mother’s identity! To add to the confusion, another couple Kanchan (Simone Singh) and Moolchand (Ninad Kamat) come in to join the engagement celebrations. It’s only towards the end that Maja Ma turns from the comical to the sensitive.
On the brighter side, the film boasts of some amazing performances. Looking gracious in sarees, bindi and jewellery in place, playing the perfect homemaker and dancing to garbha tunes, Madhuri rocks in each frame. Gajraj Rao gives an earnest performance as her well-meaning husband, who is ready to make amends. Rajit Kapur amd Sheeba Chaddha get rather farcical characters to play, and they try hard to make them convincing. Ritwik Bhowmik and Barkha Singh are all but ordinary. Music is no Dholi Taro, but Boom Padi – Rangila Mera Naach is a foot-tapping number.
It’s the ludicrous plot, some lame writing and caricatures that let the otherwise well- intentioned film down. Going to a ‘baba’ whose ‘gay bimari’ cure record is a 100 per cent to pretentious accents, there are some eye sores. Now that a LGBTQIA+ angle is a staple in films, and sure is helping the cause in howsoever miniscule way, Maja Ma is yet another attempt in that direction!