Neelakanta’s Maaya (2014) Movie Review
Cast: Harshvardhan Rane, Avanthika, Susma Raj, Nandini Rai, Venu Tillu among others.
Directed by Neelakanta.
Produced by MVK Reddy & Madhura Sreedhar Reddy / Madhura Sreedhar.
Music composed by Sekhar Chandra / Shekar Chandra
Censor Certificate: U/A
“Once the stillness comes into your life, then the mind also becomes absolutely still. When your mind becomes still, your intelligence explodes.”
The very first scene of Maaya looks like a good omen with some really good acting, and it turns out to be just the start of a sequence of appalling scenes that literally claw into you in no time. Meghana (Avanthika), experiences Extra Sensory Perception and sees the future of her near dear. In the meanwhile, famous Fashion Designer Siddharth (Harshavardhan Rane) meets Meghana for a traditional programme about local weavers. In a short time both start liking each other, but things turns around when Meghana’s childhood friend Pooja (Sushma Raj) returns to Hyderabad. Suddenly, Meghana starts experiencing ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) again as she starts getting close to Siddharth. She is unable to understand or explain this gift, except to recall that it started when she was very young. She tries to use this gift to help people, despite the risk. Seeing the latest frames about Pooja and Siddharth, Meghana, she decides to use her supernatural powers to get to the bottom of this incident and comes up with startling facts.
The one reason you could watch Maaya is due to the performance by the lead actor. Harshavardhan Rane puts his heart and soul into the film and at times manages to rise way above the script. But its disappointing to see Harshavardhan try out something different and eventually being led down by a very talented director. Avanthika is just okay. She needs to work on her expressions mainly. Sushma Raj literally chivies audience with her over excitement. Telugu actress Nandini Rai plays an important character but she was limited in her role. Anita Choudary, Naga Babu, Venu and Jhansi supported the lead cast perfectly.
Over the years, and with a few exceptions like Mr. Medhavi and Chammak Challo, director Neelakanta’s name on a film’s credits has come to represent a fairly high standard in storytelling. Even without big budgets and fancy imaginations, the director delivered engaging stories and endearing characters like those in Show and Missamma, to name just two. With his latest, Maaya though, Neelakanta turns in his most badly executed effort. Random scenes are slapped together willy-nilly, loose ends never tied, and the narrative suffers from pace problems. Neelakanta throws in a silly investigation with the heroine, and this slackens the proceedings considerably. Still, most shocking of all is Neelakanta’s inept handling of actors here. Things even get bizarre, when director leaves away loopholes to conclude things in the end. Like, How did Sushma get arrested even after the case was closed in Delhi – How can Jhansi say things will only happen when all the three leads get together for an event (When Avanthika was able to see the past of Harshavardhan & Nandini Rai without any connection) – Why did ESP stopped working for Avanthika post childhood event.. etc. Director Neelakanta attempts a film making format he seems neither familiar nor comfortable with, and as a result the film lacks the integrity of his previous successes. Maaya is neither thriller nor farfetched and apart from the lavish cinematography, it’s an exercise in inutility. There’s no scope for music in the film and the Five songs (opening titles, romantic song, Qawwali, Sad track and end credits) are passable. The background score is good. Editing of the film is not upto the mark. Production Values of the film are fine.
The concept is great, but the script and the direction by Neelakanta make Maaya an extremely painful watch. There isn’t much to say about this movie, rather stupid and really annoying with its naive narration. When it comes to directing a super-natural suspense thriller, the key is to make a highly unrealistic concept believable. Most importantly, the answers raised in the screenplay have to be convincing and justified. But the second half is very hard to digest and the twist in the end, which was probably meant to shock the audience, is outright stupid. What happened, Mr. Neelakanta?
Survi Review: 1.5/5