Maja Ma(Amazon Prime Video)
Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Gajraj Rao, Ritwick Bhowmick
Rating: *** ½
The LGBTQ community is suddenly getting a lot of attention from Bollywood. Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao played gay characters recently. Now it is the divine Ms Madhuri Dixit playing a Gujarati housewife In Maja Ma who after years of obedient housekeeping is forced out of the closet.
Actor turned director Anand Tiwari(who did well for himself while helming Bandish Bandits) is on firm ground. He explores the Gujarati middleclass household and the gossipy rigidly conservative milieu with confidence. Once again after The Fame Game Madhuri plays a wife and a mother with dark secrets. This time she is more tragic than mysterious. Wordlessly she slips into her character Pallavi Patel’s pained past to dig out uncomfortable truths.
It is a bold audacious concept. The film asks some uncomfortable questions about an individual’s identity within the domestic domain. But the conclusion to an inherently messy and unresolvable situation is most convenient and unconvincing. One feels that the director has eventually taken the shortcut at the end opting for a neat resolution when there is none.
But the film is no doubt a whole lot of fun. The festive mood never slips out of the writer’s and director’s hands. Some performances particularly the redoubtable Sheeba Chadha who as the NRI PTMIC(Punjabi turned mod in confusion) is messcast, and I do mean mess-cast . She is way too over-the-top to register as anything but caricatural.
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 .