Cast: Manisha Koirala, Shreya Singh Chowdhry, Madiha Imam
Director: Sunaina Bhatnagar
Producers: Shobhna Yadav, Sandeep Leyzell
Writer: Sunaina Bhatnagar
What's Yay: Manisha Koirala, Story
What's Nay: Slow paced narrative
Popcorn Refill: Interval
Iconic Moment: When Maya (Manisha Koirala) relishes some chaat for the first time after bidding goodbye to her loner life. That scene speaks a thousand words and Manisha totally owns it.
Besties Ana (Madiha Imam) and Ira (Shreya Singh Chowdhry) are two high school girls in Shimla. Like every teenager, their lives revolve around goofing around, discussing boys and secretly reading romantic novels away from the prying eyes of their strict teacher in school.
Amidst all this, they are equally curious about Ana's reclusive neighbour Maya (Manisha Koirala) whose only companions are two dogs, cages filled with birds and a faithful help. Her solitude is a result of a tragic childhood which had left a long lasting impact on her.
Soon, a mishievous idea dawns upon Ira and Ana where the two plan to bring some sunshine or in Ira's words, 'a Shahrukh Khan' in Maya's life. Egged by Ira, Ana begins to write love letters to Maya under the name of a non-existing past admirer called 'Ved'.
However, things take a drastic turn when Maya begins to fall for Ved, unaware that the man exists just on paper. She decides to sell her house and set off in search of her 'lover'. Ana who by then begins to develop a bond, is guilt-ridden. But before she could confess her mischief, Maya is gone.
The incident takes a heavy toil on Ana's life and also on her friendship with Ira. Six years pass by. Ana is now a student in Delhi still in search of Maya. On the other hand, Ira is grieving over the loss of a loved one in Shimla.
Will the two ever reconcile? Where is Maya? The answer to these questions lie with the rest of the film.
Sunaina Bhatnagar has assisted Imtiaz Ali on several films and the maverick filmmaker's influence is quite notable in Dear Maya. Her characters in the film ain't perfect but neither are we in real life!
As Brendan Francis rightly puts in- 'At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one's lost self', Dear Maya is all about rediscovering love and life and almost succeeds in delivering a positive note.
On the flipside, Sunaina's writing falters at a couple of places and the slow paced narrative to give some more insight about the characters, might find few takers.
The film doesn't stray away with too many sub-plots but the ones there ain't exciting enough.
Manisha Koirala is the reason why Dear Maya keeps you invested till the right frame. From her dark circles, pale glares to her thirst for some hope, she brings Maya to life with her heart-wrenching performance.
Debutantes Shreya Singh Choudhry and Madiha Imam put up a good act. But it's Imam who catches your eye more.
And yes, also watch out for a surprise cameo! (no spoilers here)
Aarti Bajaj's editing is fluid but it's the slow paced narration that plays a spoilsport.
Sayak Bhattacharya's cinematography works fine and there are a couple of scenes which linger with you for long after the film.
Saat Rangon Se is our pick from the album. Rekha Bhardwaj's rustic voice couple with some brilliant visuals of Manisha Koirala's reintroduction to life simply makes those moments unforgetable.
Sune Saaya and Kehne Ko are hummable.
Dear Maya has its heart in the right place despite of its own set of flaws. It talks about how a single thread of hope is still a powerful thing that could help one on the path of rediscovery when they ain't any sunshine.
Though it makes up an interesting tale, the film isn't everyone's cup of tea as those looking out for some massy entertainment might be highly disappointed. For the rest, it's more like finding a reason to fall in love with oneself all over again!