A middle class wife, mother and volunteer nurse witnesses a first hand tragedy that forever changes her world. In an instant, she finds herself sucked into a rabbit hole of violence, crime and power. Sakshi Tanwar is Mai, as she dons a new avatar (Sheel), who is determined to uncover the truth about the death of her daughter, Supriya. ‘Mai’ is a layered, crime drama and thriller series produced by Karnesh Ssharma of Clean Slate Filmz and directed by Atul Mongia, with Anshai Lal as the lead director and executive producer.
With Sakshi Tanwar at the helm, Mai hosts an exciting ensemble including actors, Vivek Mushran, Wamiqa Gabbi, Anant Vidhaat, Raima Sen, Ankur Ratan, Prashant Narayan, Vaibhav Raj Gupta and Seema Pahwa. The series marks the directorial debut for Mai creator, writer and showrunner, Atul Mongia. With the launch of the trailer, Atul opens up (below) how his real life experiences enabled him to create and write ‘Mai’
Direction, Setting and Cinematography
Atul Mongia marks his direction debut with Mai, while Anshai Lal, debuted with Phillauri, and together, they have managed to get every character to perform right and how. They have truly made use of the entire setting that has been so perfectly created, and while that sits into the narration just right, there are also these angles and shots that flawlessly add to what we see.
Kudos to the team for being able to get emotions of both Sheel, and Supriya right, for they both have a range of shades to portray on-screens.
Mongia is the creator and producer of this series, co-written by Tamal Sen and Amita Vyas. Together, this trio has brought to the surface a bunch of topics, emotions, and stories to light rather effortlessly.
Story and Theme
Set in Lucknow, this crime saga does resort to typical plots in the genre, however, the first couple of episodes are truly onto something. However, it is over the due course of time and towards the end, that the audience might struggle a little to keep up with the subplots, and also, feel interested. There are stories that have been added to say something, however, lack of information makes it feel rather superficial. And not to forget, there are moments that make you wonder how could a common human like Sheel do things she does, and that makes it questionable.
At first, you might think of Sridevi's Mom, more so after dwelling deeper into the story, but of course, it is the execution and additional elements that set it apart as a mother is out for vengeance for the death of her daughter. The narration is slow in bits, with sequences that feel a tad bit stretched. With each episode timed at close to an hour, a few minutes could have been easily edited out. For a 6-part thriller, there isn't a lot of doubt that there'd be a season 2, but there are plot points that clearly point to it.
Right from the moment we saw the first glimpse of this thriller, we knew Sakshi Tanwar is truly capable of bringing such a story to life, and keep up with the character's transformation on-screen. How she turns into a ruthless mother out for a revenge from the helpless grieving mother is truly perceptible. She does a majority of all the good that there is to do on the screen and not once does she falter. Though seen in parts, Wamiqa Gabbi as the daughter is every bit convincing and does a great job at portraying a young mute girl. Others in Sheel's family, including Vivek Mushran (the husband), do not seem to have enough to do, but play their parts just fine. Pahwa feels like a wasted resource, for she has so much to offer.
Moving on, we have Ankur Ratan as Farooque, who manages to play the role of an SPF officer much like it ought to be. Navin Kaushik makes for a great watch while Anand Vidhaat and Vaibhav Raj Gupta manage to play their roles well, for you can see their twisted characters through the screen and how. Raima's Neelam, who plays a former sex worker turned mistress seems to have gotten the nuances of her character just right, while Jawahar is yet another character that manages to create an impact in a story that is heavily based on his wrong doings.
Mai on Netflix is a performance heavy series with Sakshi at the center of it all. While the pace of the show might get you a little impatient, it does make progress with tons of action ahead. Though not for everyone, some might like to watch it if they can manage to look at it from a fresh lens, in which case, it does not feel like something one has seen before. Also, without a doubt, watch it for Sakshi's acting chops.
Ratings: *** stars (3/5