Writer and director Vikas Chandra of Chacha Vidhayak Hain Humare fame is back with a short, Maya, a poignant tale of mother and daughter’s love and how it expresses itself when one goes missing, and another one keeps looking. The story emerged as the necessity to confront his own fears - about loss and the need to cope with it. Chandra says, “I wanted to show a kind of love that is never expressed, and when it does, it expresses itself through cruelty.
It’s a fact that we usually show kindness to strangers but reserve our bitterness and cruelty for our most loved ones. I wanted to dig the surface of such relationships and see what lay beyond. Maya is about relationship politics, something which we can’t get tired of in real life.” With Kirti Kulhari, Naveen Kasturia, and Alka Amin in the lead, the short is streaming on Voot. Excerpts:
How did you choose the title?
Deciding on a suitable title for your story/film can be very tricky. I had toyed with many titles earlier, but every title gave something away. We wanted to preserve the intrigue around the title as much as possible. I’m fascinated by the name Maya. It has a somewhat mystical yet magical allure to it.
How has Maya’s journey been?
I’ve been trying to make this short film since 2012. I went through many casting rounds, actors were spoken to, but eventually, nothing happened. In hindsight, I’m glad it happened the way it did as we ended up making it the best Maya I could have possibly asked for.
Kulhari is Maya to the T. How did she manage it?
Kirti Kulhari made Maya into her own. I was quite nervous when I’d sent her the script because I wanted her to say yes. Maya comes across as a mean, unlikeable, manipulative person for the most part of the film and established actors usually don’t want to do such roles. Strangely, Kirti’s only condition to do the film was that I should not try to make her unnecessarily sympathetic or likeable. Once we agreed on that, the rest was a cakewalk.
How did you zero-in on Kasturia?
I needed someone who’s 19 to Maya’s 20. It’s a strange situation for him, because in an arranged marriage set-up usually, the guy has the upper hand. Here he’s happy to follow her lead cause he is like a Lajpat Nagar lad who can’t believe he’s got a girlfriend from South Delhi. Naveen Kasturia negotiated that terrain very well. He has this Amol-Palekar-of-yesteryears vibe about him. Part cocky, part vulnerable, always natural.
Amin seems perfect as Meera.
Yes, she brought her own brilliance to it as a strong headed mother who’s brought her daughter up singlehandedly and who now finds it extremely difficult to deal with her sudden helplessness because of her illness. Meera had been an educator all her life. There’s brashy confidence about her when she teases her would-be son-in-law with wordplay, but when she realises they were not too amused, she gets embarrassed, and her confidence deflates.
How is the growth of streaming platform helping content?
With the kind of boom in streaming platforms and content, it seems that we are in the golden age for writers, who seem to be finally getting their due. The golden age for content is still far away.