India too has the concept ‘sleeper hit’, films that become a great success after its release. So, in India, the pundits know how a film will fare when they are working on it.
Depending on their decision, they’d decide how much money to pump into the publicity of the film. Most of the times, they are correct. Very rarely, they are wrong, and ‘Maa’ is a shining example of how a good story can prove the pundits wrong. This is a Bollywood horror film that had none of the usual masala – there was no sex scene, there was no bikini or swimsuit scene, and yet, this Bollywood horror film worked at the box office.
Ram is a super-duper rich man, who falls in love with a woman named Mamta. It’s all because of a failed ploy by his elder brother and sister-in-law.
When they realise that their plot has failed, they plan his death. Mamta finds this out and tries to save him. A henchman kills her, leaving behind her son and and a grieving husband. Of course, the scheming family members are still trying to get their way, but this time, Mamta returns as a spirit. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Maa is a text-book case of how to make great films in the ’90s. Add a bit of emotion, have Kader Khan write the dialogues and you have a recipe for success. Add to that a villain with a trademark dialogue, at least two ear-worm songs.
These aspects would make a ’90s film recover it’s money. ‘Maa’ was a great success because of the emotional and unique storyline. The undying love of a mother to her son – even after her death. That was something the Bollywood audience had never seen.
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There’s a sequence in the film where the villain is about to kill the infant. He says to himself, “What’s up, your father hasn’t yet come to save you.” That’s when the mother’s spirit – with newly found powers says – “But the mother has arrived”.
We got goosebumps hearing that dialogue in 2017, when we know what the film is about. We wonder how the audience reacted to the dialogue when they first experienced the film in 1992. That’s Bollywood for you, straight from the heart and undeniably rooted. The direction and the performances in the film standout. Even cliched sequences of a human being finding out they are dead when people walk through them work.
Parting Shot: This is another great Bollywood horror film script that’s Indians have overlooked. You got a boy with a pet dog, a rich papa and a supernatural mother. See what we did there? We gave upcoming horror film franchises an idea. You can watch the whole film here: