|Cast||Jeetendra, Jaya Prada, Aruna Irani, Kader Khan, Gulshan Grover, Shakti Kapoor, Sahila Chadha, Wonder Dog Brownie,|
|Writer and Screenplay By||Shyam Goel|
Maa is a Bollywood horror movie that hit theaters in 1991. This is a unique horror movie. It was a blend of cinema of the nineties – newer ideas, better production values and actors who had made enough money to now experiment. In the nineties, horror cinema was just about to change. Ram Gopal Varma came up with his Raat in 1992. The Ramsays stopped making their brand of horror with Bandh Darwaza. This was the phase between Raat and Bhoot in 2003. Filmmakers were scrambling to give new, refreshing content.
This was also the decade when the superstars of today were slumming it out in afternoon-fare. Aamir Khan was doing a Tum Mere Ho, Salman Khan was doing a Suryavanshi, Shah Rukh Khan was a few years away from DDLJ. Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar were dividing wafer-thin action fare among themselves. While every movie starts out to do something new and different, there are two story arcs you cannot ignore or tamper with – the ‘protection of the innocent’ and the ‘revenge’ one. So, someone decided to mix these two, and add an evergreen one – the ghost. That movie was Maa (Mother) and it released in 1991. Here’s the review.
A rich man, Ram, marries Mamta, even though his family doesn’t like her. Ram’s family is after his riches and tries to usurp it. Mamta smarts up to them and vows to save her husband from all trouble. Soon, the couple have a child. Ram’s family begins furthering their machinations and hires an assassin to kill off Ram. Mamta stumbles upon the plot and tries to stop the assassin, but dies herself. Now, there’s nobody in the Earthly world to save Ram and his son from his evil family – or is there? You will need to watch Maa to find that out.
The Bollywood horror movie Maa is a classic potboiler with some emotionally high scenes that make it imminently watchable. After all these years, Jaya Prada gets a meaty role and I wonder why she didn’t get more such roles. I understand she switched to politics and all, but she had a career spanning more than twenty years. She doesn’t even have a Sheshadri type that Dharmendra had in Johnny Gaddar as the final signature of her career.
Ajay Kashyap, the director, and Shyam Goel, the writer, create some riveting scenes that bring the dead-mother-child-at-risk scenario very well. Also, Maa successfully creates the dynamic of two people pining in love in a charming, mature manner. You really want some tantrik to come and bring Mamta back to life so she can hug her husband for one last time, to last all eternity.
The best part about Maa is that nothing about it gets old. It has two chartbuster songs that will make you swing to them even today. It has one ‘judaai’ song that’s famous even today with people who have just had their favorite beverage. Jeetendra is at his suave peak and does a good job of playing the man too good to cry when it hurts. Jaya Pradha does a tremendous job of bringing her character to screen. The supporting cast is enviable as well. This is one of the few movies to have Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor and Gulshan Grover together. That’s like the triumvirate of epic performances right there. Giving them company is the former’s common 80’s collaborator, Aruna Irani. There’s even Sahila Chhada, the nod to classic Ramsay Bollywood movies like Veerana.
I kid you not, for those who understand Hindi, I double dare you to watch the climax sequence, just before Mamta enters the scene, without getting goosebumps. How much ever hardened Bollywood movie viewer you are, you can’t help but get a lump in your throat at that dialogue.
Maa was a legitimate grosser at the box office. It is a study in how to mingle a typical potboiler script with over-the-top concepts of horror. Some critics point out that the plot points are similar to Ghost, the movie that released just one year prior. Even if the writer did take his inspirations from that Hollywood horror movie, its laudable how he integrated that plot into a Bollywood social.
The movie also has some interesting aspects, looking at it as a Bollywood horror movie. This is one of the few movies – scattered around decades – where the audience can sympathise with the ghost. Also, this is a rare movie in which the spirit actually convinces someone to release them from their captivity so they can avenge themselves. All this culminates in that one stunning echo-dialogue. Tell me if it doesn’t give you goosebumps.
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