The situation in Tamil cinema is both a boon and a bane for horror films. There is at least one scary flick coming out every weekend, which makes it quite a challenge for directors to churn out a film which stands out from the rest. The good side of it, is that all the horror films have been making decent money at the Box Office, irrespective of their quality. Amidst a truckload of so-called horror comedies which infuse provocative clothing, double-meaning dialogues and women objectification in the name of entertainment, Maya comes off as a genuinely terrifying film which ups the standards by a mile.
Ashwin Saravanan. There’s a lot to like about this guy. It has been quite a while since we have got to see a horror film with zero (I repeat, zero) commercial compromises. There are a 100 ways in which Ashwin could have made this film jog towards being more entertaining. But he decides to not let any of that in, and sends it back at the door itself. And that’s where Maya clicks – right from the first frame, it doesn’t let you settle and makes you play the guessing game rather than serving you the plot on a platter. You will be confused, thrilled, connected and left screaming. But at the end, you will get your answers.
In just his first film, the director takes it by the horns and sneers around with dual coloured, non-linear narration. Though the connection point did puzzle me a little, I got myself back on track soon enough. The first half takes a little time with character establishments (quite a long list) and bringing about the emotional embrace, but the second pans out as a thrill-a-minute whodunit which keeps you on the edge of your seat. With minimalistic production values, Maya sets a benchmark on how great films can be made with stoopingly low budgets.
It is heartening to see Nayanthara come out of her comfort zone and essay the role of a single mother. At such a towering point in her career, the woman is making the right choices with her films and Maya is yet another feather in her cap. With little or no make-up, she brings the right amount of emotions without overdoing anything. Believe me, nobody can cry as well as she does. Aari is the next bullet in the gun, doing a fine job with his underplay. With a strong supporting cast which boasts of the proficient Lakshmi Priyaa and a bay of male artists such as Mime Gopi, Amzath and Robo Shankar, Maya has live, believable acting.
Hats off to the technical team for matching up with Hollywood’s range in terms of their professionalism. The stupendous camerawork along with its blue-ish colouring and the editing which doesn’t feel like it are the sure perks of this film. A special mention to the sound team, who have created an atmospheric experience which will crack you out at places. The chilling background cues – phew!
In all its glory, Maya is a stunning, no-nonsense horror thriller which is sure to raise your eyebrows. The fact that it has come from a team of relatively new talents (mostly debutants) doubtlessly makes it a masterstroke. Miss it at your own risk.
Verdict: Unmissable is the word.
4 / 5