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Dear Maya

Banner: Bake My Cake Films

Producer: Shobhna Yadav, Sandeep Leyzell

Director: Sunaina Bhatnagar

Cast: Manisha Koirala, Madiha Imam, Shreya Chaudhary, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (s.a)

Writer: Sunaina Bhatnagar

Music: Anupam Roy

The two girls are curious about Ana’s reclusive neighbour Maya (Manisha Koirala), whose only companions are two dogs, cages filled with birds and a housekeeper. Ana and Ira find out that due to hardships in her childhood, Maya prefers to live alone in the dark. Ira hitches a plan to write Maya love letters and soon she and Ana start sending Maya love letters to brighten up her life.

Egged on by Ira, Ana begins to write love letters to Maya, signed by a non-existing past admirer called Ved. However, things take a drastic turn when Maya begins to fall for Ved, decides to sell her house and set off in search of him in Delhi. The incident takes a toll on Ana’s life and also on her friendship with Ira. How Ana and Ira’s lives change six years after the incident forms the crux of the story.

Writer-director Sunaina Bhatnagar could have made her storyline more eccentric if the screenplay was stronger. She fails to lace together a substantial film. Writing is a major letdown here. Though the first half of the film is still reasonably enjoyable to watch, post-interval it disappoints and the climax is utterly ridiculous. Having said that, kudos for the way Bhatnagar has collaborated with Manisha Koirala, to make the character so fascinating and to have attempted a subject which could have been a delight to watch if executed a little more firmly.

All said and done, Bhatnagar should have worked harder on the story of the film. What we see is a concept, not a story. That not only disappoints but, apart from the visuals, leaves you with nothing else that’s appealing. There should have been more scenes that justified Koirala’s reclusive behaviour and the reason that the two girls don’t talk to each other for years even though they are childhood friends who know the same people. However, there is one scene that is executed brilliantly – the one where the letter appears and Koirala reads it the entire night, again and again.

Dear Maya is a disappointment, a lacklustre journey of screenplay from storyboard to big screen. Background score is fantastic and so is the music. Cinematography by Sayak Bhattacharya deserves full marks. Locations are breathtaking and costumes are apt. Editing by Aarti Bajaj could have been better. The segue between scenes is unpleasant and fails to connect with the audience. The climax is prolonged, and with a run time of 131 minutes, the film is already too long.

Performance-wise, Manisha Koirala is flawless in her part. She imbues each scene with a subtle approach to her character. Debutante Madiha Imam plays her part with honestly and performs with élan, making her character charming. Debutante Shreya Chaudhary delivers a well-rounded performance and does justice to her role. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, in a special appearance, is a surprise and plays his part pleasantly. The rest of the cast supports adequately.

Verdict: Dud.

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