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<i>Jai Santoshi Maa</i> - Movie Review

 
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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Still from Jai Santoshi MaaTo remake a blockbuster hit of the 1970s is tough. Beside comparisons with the original, the film-maker has an added responsibility on his shoulders to make an equally convincing fare, if not better.

Percept's Jai Santoshi Maa revisits the classic hit of the 1970s, Jai Santoshi Maa, which shattered all previous records and continues to be one of the biggest hits of Indian cinema. The present-day generation would be unaware of the fact that cinema halls had transformed into temples then, what with moviegoers entering the hall barefoot, performing aartis, lighting agarbattis, breaking coconuts and performing pooja.

So, naturally, the new version of Jai Santoshi Maa carries a real heavy baggage!

Fortunately, Percept's Jai Santoshi Maa, directed by Ahmed Siddiqui, doesn't disappoint. Yes, the songs by Anu Malik aren't as captivating as 'Majdhaar Mein Main Atki Beda Paar Kardo Maa', 'Main To Aarti Utaru Re Santoshi Mata Ki', 'Yahan Wahan' or 'Madad Karo Santoshi Mata' of the 1975 hit, which are chanted to this day, but the fact cannot be denied that the new version is an equally honest attempt, made with correct intentions.

Director Ahmed Siddiqui remains faithful to the original classic, which was a simple film, but had the power to mesmerize viewers of all ages. The only changes that you see in the new Jai Santoshi Maa are a rich canvas and of course, new set of actors. A commendable effort nonetheless!

Jai Santoshi Maa is about how Maa supports her devotees. It's a story about how undying faith in Santoshi Maa can redeem one's life. And how the divine intervention of the Goddess can change one's life entirely.

Jai Santoshi Maa is the story of Mahima [Nushrat Bharucha], an ardent devotee of Santoshi Maa and Anuraag [Rakesh Bapat], a musician by heart. It's a saga of all the hardships they face, with no complaints or regrets, and how they overcome these hardships with Santoshi Maa'a blessings.

Mahima's father is a music teacher and her mother a devotee of Maa. She is married to Anuraag, a young man whose passion is music. Since this marriage is against the will of Anuraag's family, only hardships come their way. Fed up with humiliation, Anuraag decides to try his luck elsewhere, where no one knows him. But Mahima decides to stay back and serve her in-laws. But what does she get in return? Misery, pain and distress from each and every member of the family.

Still from Jai Santoshi MaaWith no shoulder to lean on, Mahima starts worshipping Santoshi Maa. She starts her 'solah shukrawar vrats' and follows them religiously. She withstands everything that comes her way with a smile on her face and faith in her heart. Finally, Maa is pleased. The Goddess not only makes all her wishes come true, but also blesses her husband with all the success he ever wished for.

If you've watched the original, chances are that you'd like the new version as well. It's very Indian at heart. The film has two stories rolled into one: Besides the religious angle, the film is also about relationships. Of course, you'd argue that saas-bahu dramas and paarivaarik themes have been beaten to death on the big screen as well as on tube. Yet, you cannot deny that the Indian moviegoers still love dramas with a mythological touch.

Ahmed Siddiqui combines the old and new with conviction. Yes, a few sequences aren't as powerful as the original, but the director's eye for details is evident all through. He has handled the dramatic scenes with flourish, even though you know the story at the back of your mind. Only thing, he could've placed the songs judiciously.

Jai Santoshi Maa retains two songs from the original ['Main To Aarti Utaru Re Santoshi Mata Ki' and 'Yahan Wahan'], otherwise Anu Malik's music is pleasant, but definitely not as rhythmic as the original. The song in the climax, however, is nice. Here, the choreography [Jojo Khan] deserves to be highlighted; the songs are well choreographed though.

Nushrat Bharucha is flawless. She enacts the harried daughter-in-law with conviction. Rakesh Bapat is surprisingly not as convincing. He's a fine actor, but looks ill at ease here. There are a plethora of actors in supporting roles and each does well.

On the whole, Jai Santoshi Maa is a simple film made with correct intentions. Targeted at the family audiences, the film might work in the heartland of India, while its business at multiplexes will be poor. Also, given the poor start, it will have to rely on a miracle to stay afloat, despite being well-made.

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