Mai stretches logic too far

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Sakshi Tanwar plays a one-woman vendetta machine in Mai. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

Ridiculous is a word that just about sums up Mai.

The film is produced by Karnesh Ssharma, an individual who had laughed off a few negative reviews of his debut film NH10 (including mine) to a trusted friend. This was because that film, a sorry rehash of the 1980s-early 1990s Pratighaat brand of films on women who are compelled to take the law in their own hands, had hoodwinked young critics into thinking of it as something “different”. After all, they were not around to watch films in that period when this genre abounded and met with a good response in some cases (Khoon Bhari Maang. Phool Bane Angaarey and Zakhmi Aurat apart from Pratighaat). But if a filmmaker has to sustain, he must learn to take in the brickbats along with the bouquets and muse on the criticism.

Especially if it is constructive.

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Since then (NH10 was actually touted as a hit!), Karnesh produced two equally disastrous movies—Phillauri and Pari, but had part-redeemed himself with a modestly-appealing Bulbbul on OTT. Not satisfied with the rejection of all his films—he has claimed to be a disruptor in the Hindi film space!!—he has probably gone back to the NH10 genre, a deviant film that might have broken even on extra-theatrical revenues like various rights. We will not comment on the extra ‘S’ that has appeared in his name for (disruptor’s) luck!

Mai mixes the same revenge formula in extended form (the 6 episodes add up to around 240 minutes!) with a ‘noir’ treatment in the best disruptor pattern that has been increasingly seen in Hindi cinema in the last 20 years or so. Craving for some emotional anchoring with viewers, it shows how the hapless hausfrau (Sakshi Tanwar), who has also been traumatized by her docile husband (Vivek Mushran) in the past (Why? Watch the series if you must!), turns into a one-woman exterminating machine.

Mai works in an old-age home started by a don (!!) in memory of his wife. Involved also in the plot are other criminals like Jawahar (Prashant Narayanan), a ruthless woman (Raima Sen), who specializes in pathological violence, Prashant (Anant Vidhaat Sharma), a shady guy who works for Jawahar and the latter’s devoted boyfriend Shankar (Vaibhav Das Gupta). And what are disruptors for if there is no gay relationship forced into a story just to be different and not because it is thematically relevant?

By the way, why is Mai a determined annihilator who gets away with every murder by hook or by crook? It is because her medical student daughter Supriya has been murdered in a seeming hit-and-run. Supriya was on the verge of exposing a scam in her college and also simultaneously been emotionally betrayed by her (married) boyfriend, a cop named Siddique (Ankur Ratan).

The illogic and absurdities would put even Pari to shame. We never know how the truck driver was waiting for Supriya when she flounces out of her home because Mai has asked her something. Maybe it was a 24/7 ambush. Now, why could Supriya not have told anyone, like her parents, about the scam before that?

After this, the murders, disposals of bodies and everything else is shown with blatant and remarkable absurdity. Like when Mai, Prashant and Shankar search dozens of huge sacks of hospital waste waiting to be incinerated for a pen drive that contains a vital secret—and locate it in minutes. Now, if that is not the giddy limit, what is?

And there are any number of such outrageous things in here for a series posing as a “family thriller” (their words, not mine). For the family angles are followed if and when convenient—they involve Mai’s frustrated husband who now does simple electrical and allied jobs to earn, their domineering-of-sorts sister-in-law and hubby’s doctor brother, along with a young boy who is actually Mai’s and her husband’s offspring, given away to raised by the childless elder and more prosperous couple.

And then we have Jawahar (who is murdered by Mai)’s twin Mohan, who appears on the scene and wants to kill Neelam (Raima Sen), who is also involved in the scam, because he feels she has bumped off his twin. And Jawahar was eliminated by Mai because she thought that he has ordered her daughter’s killing. This is one answer about who ordered Supriya’s killing that she just does get from anyone, until the very end when she overhears the truth in the last sequence.

The stage is thus set for Season 2 after a very unpalatable and meaninglessly brutal and violent first season. And if Season 2 does come, I do not think I will have the patience or will to watch it!

So, like in so many bad products, are there any redeeming features? Yes, a few performances. Sakshi Tanwar is excellent as Mai, putting everything she has into a layered character trapped in a wonky script. This is probably the reason why she has opted to choose this deviant series. Prashant Narayanan is effortlessly and maniacally evil as Mohan. Anant Vidhaat Sharma shows his mettle as well.

But even for all these accomplished actors, this one’s a lost cause.

Rating: *1/2

Netflix presents Clean Slate Filmz’ Mai  Created by: Atul Mongia Produced by: Karnesh Ssharma Directed by: Anshai Lal & Atul Mongia  Written by: Atul Mongia, Srishti Rindani, Tamal Sen, Vishrut Singh & Amita Vyas  Music: Sagar Desai Starring: Sakshi Tanwar, Vivek Mushran, Wamiqa Gabbi, Raima Sen, Prashant Narayanan, Anant Vidhaat Sharma, Vaibhav Das Gupta, Akash Khurana, Ankur Ratan, Seema Pahwa, Omkar Jaiprakash, Saurabh Dubey, Anubha Fatehpuria, Ikhlaque Khan, Sandeepa Dhar, Mikhail Gandhi & others

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