Dear Maya Review

How do you review a film that is at one all over the place and also the comeback film of one of Bollyoowd's most luminous actors? How do you watch the story limply struggle as you watch Manisha Koirala emote way better than the director can handle? How do you watch a good idea nosedive when the script does not explain many weird things happening on screen?

This film leaves you perplexed at best. This is the breakup. Two teenage schoolgirls, Ira and Anna are best friends. Their heads are full of romance novels, giggling when they see boys and dreaming about becoming models.

The film is set in picturesque Shimla. Anna's room overlooks an old dilapidated home. The windows of this house are shut and covered by black curtains. The two girls have often noticed a stern older woman staring out into nothingness, the weird maid who takes two massive dogs out for a walk. The two girls Anna (played by Madiha Imam) and Ira (Shreya Choudhary) decide they are going to change the lady's lonely life by sending her a romantic letter.

The two girls and their teenage life is very sweetly chronicled. But then there's Mayadevi, Manisha Koirala, terrible make-up caked on, made to stare grimly out of the window, dressed in black. It's such a sight, she looks like wicked witch more than lonely. And if the director assumes the word 'depressed' is supposed to accompany the word 'loneliness', then she probably meant 'demented'. That's because they show Manisha Koirala, of the dirty house full of ancient objects, making doll after doll dressed in black. Is this a horror film? No such respite. We are never told why she's stitching dolls' clothes and painting sad faces. The worst part is, when she's happier (we see later) she's still stitching dolls' clothes, but with happier faces on dolls.

What exasperates you is the implausibility of the story. Mayadevi and her maid find helpful neighbors in Delhi, the people at the address do not slam the door on the two women but help, the police in Delhi actually take down a missing person's complaint after six years of the person went missing, no one objects when Anna plasters Mayadevi's photos all over the city...

The director does manage to make the audience believe in the friendship between Ira and Anna and how both girls handle their life crises. But those moments are so few, you don't know whether to like the whole film because of the moments or just groan at the story as it unfolds. Even the transformation of Manisha Koirala from the stern unhappy person has touches of magic that even inept direction and an implausible story cannot take away. Manisha Koirala once brought to the screen live, and here when she twirls in the rain with her face expressing sheer joy is something that is worth watching. Alas, Maya's happy surprise ending in Delhi is more laughable than happy. Wait for the movie to show up on cable.

Dear Maya does have some sweet moments but the film vacillates from interesting to ghastly so often you wonder if this movie was made by a committee. Wait for the movie to show up on cable. (2) - Manisha Lakhe