Maya (2001) [Hindi]

Maya

I found this movie deeply disturbing and I don’t think anyone reading this would be even remotely interested in watching “Maya”. I really wish I hadn’t picked up this movie.

Verdict: Avoid unless you want to be disturbed – very disturbed.

Except for the last bit, Angela Baldassarre’s brief is spot on:

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, along comes a movie that shocks you back into revulsion. Digvijay Singh’s first feature, Maya, has the charm and delicacy of the Iranian films of the past five years, but the horrific ending of any child-abuse documentaries.The first half of the movie is all sunlight and laughter as 12-year-old Maya causes mischief with her beloved foster brother, Sonjay. Although the children are properly punished for their misbehavings, the parents are loving and attentive. This only prompts the lively kids to keep running away and causing more havoc.

Then the tone of the film begins to change. When Maya gets her first period, her life is suddenly changed. Now considered a grown-up she is forced to help her mother in the kitchen, and is no longer allowed to run around freely as she used. Sonjay, meanwhile, doesn’t understand the sudden change in attitudes, and becomes rebellious. And while the family prepares to return to Maya‘s biological parents for an “initiation ceremony,” there is still no indication of harm.

But Singh’s atmospheric tone begins to indicate that the horror is about to come. While Maya is prepared in gorgeous celebratory dress to embark on this “ceremony”, her father and foster father lavish the priests with gifts and foods. Their hope is that the ceremony will make their beloved Maya truly blessed by God. After all, her mother and grandmother underwent the same initiation ritual, and “look at how happy they are.”

When Maya goes behind the temple doors with the priests, that’s when we’re confronted with the truth behind the “ceremony.” Although filmed tastefully, the scene is unwatchable and shattering. In the opening credits the film indicates that Maya is based on actual events currently taking place in India. If this is so, the world to this critic has become even uglier than imagined.

Hats off to Singh for having made a brave, involving and ultimately memorable first film.

Camelot (1967)

Camelot

Another one of those movies I just happened upon in the library. I actually wound up enjoying it quite a bit. Not sure I’d watch it repeatedly, considering that the style of this musical is a bit old and the character playing Lancelot is a tad annoying. Richard Harris as King Arthur is very entertaining. Movie runs a bit long at 3 hours but I didn’t really notice till the last 10 minutes or so.

Verdict: Must watch for fans of musicals. Recommended for others.

Baghban (2003) [Hindi]

Baghban

Yeah, I know. An Indian movie. Yes, I watched it. No, don’t want to hear about it. Despite my general disdain for most movies coming out of the Indian subcontinent due to their formulaic nature, I do watch them from time to time.

Baghban was quite a bit better than I expected. Pretty clean, not as over-sentimental or melodramatic as I feared, but then, I’ve seen some really bad ones. Hema Malini as the mother takes the cake, with Amitabh Bachchan as the father trailing not too far behind. Paresh Rawal is terribly under used. Salman Khan and Mahima Chaudhary are supposedly there as eye candy and came across as rather unreal.

Verdict: Recommended if you enjoy family dramas.