14 year old Anna and Ira are best friends living in the sleepy
town of Shimla. An old abandoned Bungalow near their house intrigues them. Legend
has it that a woman Maya Devi who lived in the bungalow hadn’t stepped
out for 20 years. When she had been a marriageable age, no man (there had been
many suitors) had agreed to marry her and that had made her bitter, angry and
retreat from the world.
Anna and Ira decide to write fake love letters to Maya Devi,
pretending to be one of the suitors she met 20 years ago who was still in love
with her. Maya Devi is transformed by the letters and decides to sell everything
and move to Delhi to meet her suitor. Anna is horrified and wants to go to Maya
Devi and confess, but Ira refuses. Anna and Ira have a huge fight, and Anna
decides to confess by herself but ultimately chickens out. Maya Devi leaves
for Delhi and Anna’s overwhelmed with guilt. She confesses to her parents
who decide to send Anna away to boarding school, away from Ira who Anna refuses
to speak to again. 7 years later Anna is now a 21-year-old college student in
Delhi. Her past actions still haunt her and she is still looking for Maya Devi.
Ira forcefully joins Anna in this search, even though Anna and Ira are no longer
on good terms. The girls decide to go look for her in Delhi one last time. What
they discover completely blows their mind.
'Dear Maya': Touches a raw nerve (Review
By Troy Ribeiro, Rating: **1/2)
While the promos and the title suggest that the film "Dear Maya" is
about a prank letter to an old melancholic spinster and how it changes
her life, the film in reality is a BFF (Best Friends Forever) bonding
Anna and Ira are two friends, bubbling with energy. They live in Shimla
and study in Loreto Convent. One day, while returning from school, they
notice Mayadevi, a recluse who lives with her two dogs and a help in a
large well-protected villa, peeping through her window. The duo decide
to play a joke on her.
The repercussion of the prank propels the narrative forward.
The plot, except for a few inconsistencies, unfolds like a novel
written by an over-enthusiastic teenybopper. The script is dramatically
pretentious at times and goes overboard with its excesses. This is
evident in the mise-en-scene, especially in the telephonic scene
between the two friends. The constant banging of the door in the
background which is jarring and unwarranted.
While the birds in the cages and pet dogs bound by chains add to the
metaphors depicting Mayadevi's life, her crafting of the hand-made
dolls aimlessly, offers no explanation to Mayadevi's personality or
But what is remarkable about the film is the transition in the tone of
the narration. The narrative shifts from bright chirpy scenes to slow
melancholic scenes with dark brooding frames and back to bright
sunshine acts, with natural ease. These scenes are often peppered with
The cast slips into the skin of their characters with natural ease.
They evoke the right emotions passionately which make you
simultaneously like them or get irritated with them.
Manisha Koirala essays the role of the eponymous character to
perfection. Her gait, speech and underplayed histrionics induce you to
accept her as the loner in search of true love. The silences in her
performance and vulnerability in her eyes are used by her to
effectively convey her anguish and loneliness.
Madiha Imam as Anna and Shreya Chaudhary as Ira, are lithe and natural.
They play the effervescent and enthusiastic teenagers with ease. And
the transition in their personality from the beginning to six years
later is distinct and relatable.
The characters Neil and Rahul, deserve a special mention for their
brilliant and convincing performances too.
Iravati Harshe as Anna's mother, in a one-dimensional role, is
under-utilised but effective. The character playing Anna's dad is
reduce to a caricature.
The piano is effectively used for the background score as its notes
evoke the right mood. Anupam Roy's music and the song with the lyrics,
"kehne ko dil nahina" seamlessly mesh into the narrative.
The visuals are beautifully and dexterously captured by Cinematographer
Sayak Bhattacharya's lens. These frames along with the sound, designed
by Manik Batra and his team are shrewdly and skilfully layered by Aarti
Overall, "Dear Maya", despite its follies, touches a raw nerve and
makes you embrace the film wholeheartedly.