Director: Mahesh Kodiyal
Cast: Asha Bhosle, Padmini Kolhapure, Ram Kapoor
To make an acting debut- not just in a cameo but in a central role- at the ripe old age of eighty is a challenging task for anyone. But if that debutante happens to be Asha Bhosle, then the challenge becomes a near daunting one. Because when you have enjoyed decades of celebrity status for your behind-the-screen singing exploits, you need to make doubly sure that you won’t disappoint your life-long fans by dishing out a mediocre performance on the silver screen!
That’s why I was quite hesitant to watch Mai. I did not want to see an ageing diva, a living singing legend make a fool of herself on screen. I am quite touchy about such things. But then I couldn’t hold back my curiosity. I watched Mai and I am glad that I did!
What’s the plot?
The contented family-life of a happily married working couple (Padmini Kolhapure, Ram Kapoor) receives an unexpected jolt, when the wife’s brother informs her that he would be moving to US for a better job and he would be keeping their old mother Mai (Asha Bhosle) in an old-age home. The brother’s action stuns the daughter. Being the eldest and the most well-settled amongst her siblings, she decides that she would bring Mai home to look after her. The decision upsets her husband and especially her teenaged daughter vehemently opposes it. To complicate matters, the aged Mai becomes afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition where old people start losing their memory and recognition skills.
With her health and mind deteriorating every day, Mai starts to become a very difficult person to manage. With her emotional challenges mounting day by day, the daughter finds herself in a helpless no-win situation, both at home and at working place. Will she find the inner courage to fight the world to stand at her ailing mother’s side? Will her family ever understand her turmoil?
Despite its middle-of-the-road tear-jerker status, I’d wholeheartedly recommend Mai for any movie-buff for one and only one reason – Asha Bhosle.
No, don’t go expecting a polished histrionic act. It is just a simple and sincere portrayal of a mother, who spent her youth single-handedly fighting against adversities to bring up her kids but who now in her old age finds herself left alone like some unwanted furniture.
What Asha lacks in terms of finer acting skills, she more than makes up through her magnetic presence. All her life, we have seen her chirpy, bubbly, dazzling, ever-youthful singing persona. But here she sheds that popular image and reveals an Asha that we have never seen. An old, frail, ailing lady terribly missing her near and dear ones; a portrayal made even more poignant by her real life tragedies! That daring act of revealing her inner wrinkled face without the mask, that itself deserves kudos. I can’t think of many (Should I say ‘Any’?) celebrated artistes, who would have so readily let go of their popular public image to put their reputation on the line through a performance on a totally new platform. And to do it at the age of eighty, it is plain mind-boggling.
In Mai, Asha Bhosle shows us that her versatility as a performer knows no bounds. Hats off to her!