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    Default Film Review: Listen...Amaya

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    Starring Deepti Naval, Farouq Shaikh, Swara Bhaskara

    Directed by Avinash Kumar Singh

    Rating: ***

    There is something enormously heartwarming about a mother-daughter film where the two actresses playing the roles look naturally comfortable together. For debutant director Avinash Kumar Singh, casting Deepti Naval and Sawara Bhaskara in the key roles is half the battle won.

    The rest of the cast and their allotted spaces just fill up this intimate portrait of a suburban crisis without anyone jostling for space. The premise is bold but not created to incite a feeling of shock in us. Mom and daughter occupy an inviolable space within the cosy café that they run. Enter the outsider, who is not an outsider. What happens when the mom Leela decides to marry her long-time friend Jayant, aka Jazz?

    The daughter’s reaction is one of disbelief and denial. The plot doesn’t get stuck on the stunned. The sensibly-written film takes us through the daughter Amaya’s journey from an outright rejection of a new life for her mother to a gradual realization that love or companionship don’t have to strike at any specific age of phase in a woman’s life.

    The drama of the daughter’s imagined deception is played out at muted octave. The director has no space in his mellow quietened-down narrative for melodrama. It helps this film’s cause tremendously that actors of Farouq Shaikh and Deepti Naval’s experience step in to play characters of their own age looking for, giggle, love and maybe, giggle giggle, sex when they are expected by their children to “behave themselves”.

    Both Farouq and Deepti confer a layer of profound sensitivity to this little-big film about a woman’s right to find companionship with or without her darling daughter’s approval. The film’s main dramatic tension converges on the daughter’s character. The underrated under-used Swara Bhaskara is a revelation as the young girl grappling with the reality of another man in her mother’s life who is not her father. That Farouq’s character isn’t trying to take Amaya’s father is a realization that sinks into her consciousness after a painful process of self-exploration. On Swara hinges the film’s final impact. She holds up the film most ably.

    The writing by Geeta Singh is never extravagant. Temperance is lavishly exercised in the way the characters express themselves. Some of the scenes are brilliant in their muted emotional content. Farouq’s forgetfulness, his relationship with an old watch-repairman in a crowded bylane of Old Delhi and his inability to locate the watch maker’s address in time to meet the old wise man before his death, become symbolical of every individual’s hit-and-miss encounter with life’s most cherishable moments.
    Blessedly the film doesn’t take itself overly seriously. There are some genuinely funny moments in the narration. The scene where Deepti’s new NRI friend drops in announced in the rains, is hilarious for the confusion that Farouq’s role in her life creates in the minds of the outsiders.

    Somewhere Listen...Amaya tells us that the relationships that we form in the journey of life don’t need to conform to any individual’s definition. That to go with the flow is not just desirable it is also the only way to enjoy what destiny serves up. Listen...Amaya doesn’t get caught up in message-mongering or sermonizing. It allows the likable urbane characters to grow in their space, and at their volition. No moral demands are made on them by the film’s makers.

    There is a touch of spontaneity in this film that is endearing. The songs, though situational, could have been avoided. The remix of Kishore Kumar’s Ek ladki bheegi-bhaagi si tries to be a cute in a film peopled by characters who otherwise don’t pose for effect. Listen...Amaya is a touching peek into the heart, breaking boundaries to find comfort and love. If the film’s main protagonists are not beyond reproach it’s because no one is immune to love.


 

 

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