In December 2019, as part of the Victory Day celebration, National Film Award winner director Masud Pathik’s film, Maya - The lost mother on the life of war heroines and their children was released. The story explores the way life of a woman who survived the horror of sexual violence during the war of 1971 still haunts her and her family, reviews Rahat Karim
MAYA - The Lost Mother was released on December 27, 2019. The film is directed by Masud Pathik, who won the National Award for his film Nekabborer Mohaproyan in 2014. Maya is influenced by Shahabuddin Ahmed’s painting titled ‘Woman’ and Kamal Chowdhury’s poem — Juddho Shishu (war baby).
The movie is funded by the government of Bangladesh. Maya contain the story of war children who are struggling with their identity and the past of their mothers, Biranganas (war heroines). The film, visually, has a very raw feeling but narrative wise it feels like a television drama (natok).
The film starts with the natural beauty of Bangladesh. Birds flying by, cows roaming in the field and there is a woman looking sullen, a turtle swimming in the river. Visually, it was a beautiful take. Then the audience see one of main characters Jabbar played by Pran Roy who is speaking to a snake. He is seen there with his sidekick and Pinky, a canine companion. Maya is played by popular actress Jyotika Jyoti, who has two children. And, her mother Ayesha.
Ayesha is a Birangana, who lives with her daughter Maya and Jabbar. After learning about Maya’s mother Ayesha, her husband divorced her. The character of Ayesha is done by Mumtaz Sarkar. Jabbar is a war child who can talk to the nature. In the film Maya and Jabbar falls in love with each another.
Then the audience is introduced with Manabi Bose, who is researching on Birangana. Manabi stays at Geeta’s house and found her secret that emotionally pulled her to the subject even more. Geeta runs a foundation and helps Manabi to do her research. Manabi is guided by Rayhan who is a prominent poet. Their conversations are very loving and patriotic.
Manabi and Rayhan travels through Dhaka, the cinematographer took nice shots of this claustrophobic city. They visited museums and historical monuments. She is a very progressive woman and has interest in books. Rayhan presents her book, together they go to bookstore. Here poet Kamal Chowdhury appeared in his own character.
The story goes to Jabbar in the village. He is portrayed as a humble man and lost in his own thought. He is seen mad by the others. The film’s most interesting character is the dog Pinky. He is always by Jabbar’s side. The dog was real and no graphics generated, it’s so fascinating to see the dog in action. Jabbar and Pinky always stays close. When Jabbar is irritated by the villagers, Pinky defended him.
Ayesha is a caring grandmother and saddened by her memories. Her daughter Maya does the earning, as well as the household chores. She cooks in the house and also farms the land. They are independent in their own way. Villagers think poorly of them and are often being pressured. Jabbar stays on trees and talks with the sky or sleeping by the river side. He is often being mocked at by the villagers. His reaction towards such mockery was aggressive and he always came up with patriotic quotes.
Then the story comes again in Dhaka to Manabi and she is seen alone now. The audience is being told her secrets in this scene and the secrets that are pushing her towards existential crisis. She found the secret in her mother’s diary which is also related to her research. As the film runs by, her chemistry with Rayhan turns into a love story. They exchanged their hearts and plans to go to Rayhan’s village where Maya lives.
This is when all the characters are linked in the main story line. Rayhan confronts his father who was a rajakar during the 1971. Jabbar goes to jail, Manabi gets close to her secret and Ayesha is still traumatised by her past. Villagers started to press Maya as she became pregnant. Ayesha wanted Maya and Jabbar to get married, but Jabbar disappeared. This is when Maya picked up a machete and walked out of the door.
Acting of the characters were good especially Pinky’s. Narrative of the movie was very fast, but the script was weak. There was a cameo of Syad Hasan Imam. Momtaz, Konal, and Oishee among others have sung songs for the film.
The colour combinations of the film are very natural. The art direction is very raw. The art direction is also done by the director. The cinematography is nice which made Dhaka look very beautiful and village very natural. The cinematography of the film is done by Komol Chandra Das. The drone shots were fantastic.
The editing of the film is just horrible. I felt the editing team was in a hurry. The film also did sloppy work to connect two locations — Dhaka and the village and their connections were shown very poorly during the screen time.
Rahat Karim is a student of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh
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