Mai (2013) *HQ*

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MAI… is about a woman [Asha Bhosle] suffering from Alzheimer, who is tossed between her four children. The only son, who she had great expectations from, isolates her the moment he lands a job in a foreign country. The two youngest daughters try to run away from the responsibility too. The eldest daughter, Madhu [Padmini Kolhapure], a woman of substance, takes a stand against the wishes of her husband [Ram Kapoor] and daughter takes the responsibility of tending for her.

As time progresses, Mai’s health deteriorates. The family life of her daughter is in shambles due to the prevailing tension with her husband. However, Madhu balances her disgruntled family and work pressure, until, one day, the condition of her mother forces her to quit her job. At this stage, the relation between Mai and her son-in-law takes a miraculous turn, which changes his life forever.

A subject like this isn’t new for the Hindi screen. ZINDAGI [Sanjeev Kumar, Mala Sinha], AVTAAR [Rajesh Khanna, Shabana Azmi] and BAGHBAN [Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini], besides several films, have dealt with elderly parents being neglected by their children. In those films, the senior citizens were mistreated by their kids. In MAI…, the mother is reluctant to admit that her son has discarded her and is embarrassed to stay with her daughter and son-in-law. Therein lies the difference!

In this era of new-age cinema and experimental themes, MAI… may come across as an old-fashioned tale, with cliches aplenty, but some subjects can never go out of fashion. The tried and tested formula continues to work despite contrived scenes and situations, if handled with dexterity. That’s one of the prime reasons why MAI… works — the expert handling by its director. Rich in emotions, the film never deviates into unnecessary sub-plots, which explains why the focus remains on the core issue.

MAI… banks heavily on the emotional quotient, making you think about the woman who helped her son take the first steps, but the ungrateful son deserts her when she needs to take her last ones. Loaded with emotions, with heart wrenching situations, MAI… is a sincere attempt at telling an uncomplicated story with straightforwardness, with episodes that tug at your heartstrings.

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