Madhuri Dixit underplaying a difficult and complex character with just her expressions at times? Hell, yeah! Keep giving us more and more of that please. After ruling the web space in India for the longest time now, Amazon Prime Video presents its first Indian original film, Maja Ma that stars the legend Madhuri Dixit in the lead role supported by an alluring list of names. Having had the chance to see the film beforehand, here is what I thought of it-
Throwing You Off-Guard
After watching the trailer, you might have had your share of expectations and assumptions but what Maja Ma does, is throw all those factors out of the window almost fifteen to twenty minutes into the film. From presenting a jaw-dropping moment to more and more twists, the films leads family drama to places it probably has never been before in one way. That is indeed positive. What I can tell you about it is that the film deals with the LGTBQIA+ issues and factors in the most delicate and warming ways possible. But trust me, nothing can prepare you for the first reveal unless your brain has already churned quite a bit reading so far.
Scenes Standing Out
Working as a double-edged sword, the factor consistent with Maja Ma is the fact that some of the scenes in the film are absolutely fantastic. To my pleasant surprise, it was great to see actor Simone Singh on the screen after a long time and her character is brilliantly written (albeit with an unnecessary side angle). One scene involving her, Dixit and actor Shebba Chadha on a ropeway is one of the best scenes of the film and had me almost whistling at my laptop; another one towards the climax having Dixit mouth some words of wisdom and so on. These scenes make the watch extremely enjoyable and has you invested constantly. However....
The Other Edge
There is another edge to it which does lead to a few roadblocks. The decision to give Rajit Kapur and Barkha Singh an accent misfires even though justified in the context of the film. Kapur being the veteran he is, tries his best to lend as much as he can but it doesn't land. Apart from that, the inclusion of a random gully boy, who is hell-bent on defaming the protagonist's family, aforementioned parallel track for Simone Singh and a few perplexing decisions taken by characters in the realm of the story do lead to some questionable instances affecting the viewing on a few occasions.
As expected from director Anand Tiwari, the man is really efficient with making his actors act with their actions at some instances while go full-blown monologue on others. With Dixit, he makes sure that she doesn't lose the subtlety of her character inspite of having pent-up anger and as 'traditional Indian woman' unforunately suggests, she continues to perform her duties with utmost diligence inspite of dealing with a mountain of problems. Tiwari uses small details to highlight this effectively. And as mentioned above, he has actors go all out with dialogues and exposition when needed as was the burstout scene between Simone Singh, Sheeba Chadha and Madhuri Dixit.
A legend like Madhuri Dixit showing us what she is worth at this stage in her career is just the kind of things we need. Dixit underplays the character with utmost grace and as we know she is indeed the 'expression queen', she lets her expressions do the talking on multiple instances. Gajrao Rao gets multiple layers to portray as well apart from only being the 'comic relief' in multiple projects lately, while Srishti Shrivastava plays Tara with just the right amount of fierceness it needed. For me though, Sheeba Chadha is the standout from the supporting cast as even with limited screen time, she showcases her fettle as we know already when it comes to her capabilities.
In the end, Maja Ma might not be perfect but throws a curveball in the first few minutes of its viewing and tackles the subject with the right amount of respect and delicate treatment it deserves.
Rating - ***1/2 (3.5/5)