Coming-of-age drama ‘Dear Maya’ grows on you

(Photo: Reuters)

Sunaina Bhatnagar’s coming-of-age drama doesn’t look too promising at first, but is one of those films that grow on you. Centred around two precocious teenagers in the picturesque town of Shimla, the film traces their lives and how they deal with the consequences of a seemingly harmless prank they played on the neighbourhood recluse.

Ira (Shreya Chaudhary) and Anna (Madiha Imam) are best friends and, as teenagers are wont to be, are oblivious to everyone else’s feelings but their own. They are curious about the Boo Radley-like figure in their town – the mysterious Maya (Manisha Koirala), who according to village lore has not stepped out of her crumbling mansion for several years after being permanently scarred by her family’s troubled past.

(Photo: Reuters)

The girls decide to write anonymous love letters to Maya, hoping the amour in those letters will bring some zing into what they see as a dreary life. “We are sending a Shah Rukh Khan into a boring lady’s life”, says Ira, the more reckless of the two.

But as the charade continues, the lives of several people in the small town are irrevocably changed. Emboldened by the letters from the anonymous admirer, Maya decides to track him down to Delhi, unaware that the address was taken by Ira from her mother’s address book.

Bhatnagar tells her story with a lot of heart. And even though the narrative is rough around the edges – the events in Maya’s life and Anna’s sulking fiance are sore points that stand out in the screenplay – the film has enough charm to tide you over these bumps.

Imam does a good job of going from a carefree schoolgirl to a woman who is permamently affected by the havoc she caused. Koirala, who plays Maya, manages to light up the screen even though she does not have too much screen time or dialogue.



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