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Maayakumari

Maayakumari Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : 3.0 / 5

Maayakumari Movie Review : A period drama that even the good music and acting couldn’t save

A recent influx of period pieces seems to have taken over Tollywood, and Maayakumari is Arindam Sil’s tribute to 100 years of Bengali cinema. The film starts off with a young woman, Runi (Arunima Ghosh), being selected for the role of a legendary diva who was popular during 1930s and ’40s and was a part of a famous on-screen pair. Maayakumari (Rituparna Sengupta) and Kanan Kumar (Abir Chatterjee) had acted in many films before her sudden departure from the film industry post marriage.
However, when the director of the biopic (Indrasish Roy) takes the cast and crew to a shoot location, strange things start happening around Runi and the star of the film, Ahir Chatterjee (Abir Chatterjee), who is also the grandson of Kanan Kumar.
The premise of the plot has definite shades of an Om Shanti Om or a Madhumati, but then it veers off in a slightly different, but predictable direction.
Sil tries to merge the present with the past in the script, combining the two primary narratives to provide a glimpse into the life of the titular character and what she faces during and after her career. Here, several important issues that women in cinema face, like misogyny and nepotism, are shown quite starkly. However, the characters, including Maayakumari, are mostly unidimensional, working as instruments to reveal the final truth. This takes away from the story considerably, together with a sheer lack of chemistry between the lead pair.
Despite good acting, neither Rituparna nor Abir seems to be convincing in their assigned roles, and dialogues form a big part of that. The writer seems to be rather confused as to which genre Maayakumari belongs, and so, the character ends up neither here nor there, a little like the ghost she portrays. In contrast, the chemistry between Sauraseni Maitra and Arna Mukhopadhyay is rather cute. In a short but sweet appearance, Rajatava Dutta is delightful as Maayakumari’s husband.
Music plays a big part in the film. Composer Bikram Ghosh and singers Haimanti Shukla, Manomay Bhattacharya, Madhubanti Bagchi, Ujjaini Mukherjee and Iman Chakraborty have created magic with the seductive Madhumashe phool phote, the soulful Ami Ke, the playful Phoole jodi etoi kanta and the haunting Chilekotha. These songs play a big part in setting the ambience and establishing relationships in course of the film.
But the script could have been far tighter, especially around the character of Runi, who is probably the weakest link in the tale. This is perhaps why despite the ensemble cast, the film fails to retain the attention of the audience in certain areas, making it a one-time watch at best.
Poorna Banerjee

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