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Dear Maya Movie Review: Manisha’s Maya Will Remind You Of Her Khamoshi Days In This Little  Gem

Dear Maya
Dear Maya

Starring: Manisha Koirala, Madiha Imam,Shreya Chaudhary, RakeyshOmprakash Mehra

Written & Directed by  Sunaina Bhatnagar

Rating: ****(4 stars)

First things first. Dear Maya is a dear little gem of a film that you would  want to hold close to your heart.As  debutant director Sunaina Bhantangar charts a course through the heart of her beautiful protagonist  Maya, the narrative tugs at your heartstrings without being manipulative or excessively maudlin.

Among the many aspects  of the film that left me deeply moved is its controlled emotion projection.  This could have been an overwhelming story of a beautiful lonely woman and her faithful washed-out woman-Friday fading away in her self-created isolation in the anonymity of  a hill station(something like our Bollywood divaRekha ,if she were not a celebrity) until, one fine day, when she is suddenly  jostled into a delayed blossoming.

Manisha  Koirala  plays the wilting flower with heartbreaking integrity. She is a feast for the senses. This film is remarkable for  how capably it uses this actress’ beauty and the feast.

Though Manisha’s Maya  is central to the plot and her name is mentioned in almost every scene,director Sunaina Bhatnagar usesManisha incandescent physical presence sparingly.This is a wise narrative device. Every time she is on screen Manisha leaves you craving for more, not only because she is exceptionally watchable but also because her character is written as an epitome of enigma. The more we are told about her the more we want to know.

The narrative works on two basic human emotions: hope and  guilt. While Manisha’s Maya erupts in  belated bliss after she receives love letters from an unknown admirer, the two  young female protagonists Anna(Madiha Imam) and Ira(Shreya Chaudhary) are the unlikely catalysts  for Maya’s metamorphosis.

Dear Maya is as much Maya’s story as it is about the two fun-seeking girls who blunder into a lifelong regret and guilt. With remarkable restrain this little film with a big heart tells us how a moment ofjudgement-error in life can effect and change lives forever.

While Manisha owns the film in every frame that she occupies(the camera has always been in love with her though she has not always reciprocated that love) Madiha Imam as the guilt-ridden Anna is a significant find. A younger , more sorted version of Anushka Sharma,Madiha takes Anna’s character through  a memorable  labyrinth of  emotions all delicately threaded together in a stirring motion of frozen thoughts.

While  we witness Maya’s journey into self-actualization we also see Anna’s friendship with her best friend Ira  go through its upheavals. Apart from one lengthy confrontation/breakdown sequence which both the young actresses are  unable to handle,  Madiha Imam andShreya Chaudhary lend a supple tonal honesty to the proceedings.

But make no mistake.  Manisha Koirala own Dear Maya. As she transforms from a repressed woman in Simla to a self-dependent life-loving diva in Delhi, Manisha again confirms her place among the greats.

Towards the end filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra shows up in a surprise role lending credence to the growing feeling in the audience that Dear Maya is a sum-total of far greater human traits than hope and guilt. What this film says about a live well-lived is so much larger than its immediate concerns.

Dear God, don’t let Dear Maya drown in the din of the Baahubali , Baywatch  & Wonder Woman.