Maja Ma – a heartwarming family tale that has just been released today, has the perfect concoction of effortless talents and a narrative that is of prime essence to be told and heard. An enigma then, now, forever – Madhuri Dixit as the lead continues to entertain and surprise her audience with the caliber that an artist like her brings onto the screen. In an exclusive conversation with Filmfare, she gets candid about constantly upgrading and innovating with the opportunities at hand. The young clan – Ritwik Bowmik, Srishti Shrivastava, and Barkha Singh express gratitude, admiration, and learnings garnered along the way from respected actors like Madhuri Dixit and Gajraj Rao which made this film a joyride indeed. Excerpts….
1. Madhuri, you are all set to play another layered character in Maja Ma…
Madhuri: It’s a lot of fun because that’s what our craft is all about. We want to do very complicated characters and like you said, very layered, something you can enjoy doing and which challenges you to do better. So I guess these are the kind of roles that give you that opportunity and it’s always fun playing these roles.
2. So who’s been the funniest on the sets?
Madhuri: Gajraj Ji hands down. He, Rajat Ji, and even Sheeba are so good in the movie. This whole star cast, the casting is just right. Everybody is just right in their roles and I’ve had a blast on Maja Ma because on the set we all were Maja Ma. We used to play dumb charades, we used to do all kinds of stuff and shoot bhi pyaar se hui. Another thing was that this film was shot during covid, so that was a big thing about it. Every day, it weighed on us because we had to make sure nobody got sick. We had fun and the whole thing went off so smoothly, and we were all Maja Ma on the set.
3. Ritwik what is the thing about this mother-son dynamic that you have in this film that appealed to you the most?
Ritwik: It’s not about what appealed to me. It honestly is by chance and by luck, that most stories I’m part of having a fantastic mother-son dynamic. And I think it’s destiny, and I also think it’s my mother giving out vibes in the universe ki yeh jitna bhi time mere sath nahi bitata, isko maa wali kahani hi karni padegi. And every time I do these stories, every time I feel that tight-knit emotion that happens between a mother and a child, I always go back home and have conversations with her about what I’m feeling and what not.
4. Barkha, collaborating with artists like Madhuri Dixit and Gajraj Rao – what was the environment like on the set, any behind the scenes anecdotes you have to share?
Barkha: Electric. So it was this whole array of emotions that started with this anticipation, to this hectic nerves, to like fine, oh okay they are also humans, they are very nice humans, they’re very giving and they’re being very nice, to acceptance of that fact, to finding some sort of a comfort zone, to playing dumb charades between scenes, to dancing together at rap parties. Lots and lots of learning, I must say. Whether it was Madhuri ma’am, or whether it was Gajraj sir, Sheeba ma’am, their inputs really mattered a great deal.
5. Madhuri, we all know how much fans love watching you dance on screen – how excited were you when you were offered this role of a dance teacher as her profession?
Madhuri: This dance is, it’s not a dance thing. She is getting ready for festivity and she does Garba, and she’s teaching other women to do that. And she’s part of a very tight-knit community, where everybody looks up to her. Even the women are like please show us how to do this, how to do that. So that’s her character, and this Garba was just part of the puzzle because it’s an integral part of the film and when they came to me with the script, the dancing was already there. And it was great for me to know it was Garba because I’ve never done Garba in my entire career. I’ve danced in all kinds of different styles but never done Garba, and I was thrilled that I got to dance to a Garba song. But that is a little part of who Pallavi is, but there is much more to her than just the dance.
6. Barkha, tell us about the onscreen chemistry you share with Ritwik in Maja Ma?
Barkha: I mean Ritwik is not a very approachable guy when you meet him for the first time. Ritwik will of course completely deny this…
Ritwik: Galat bol rahi hai, jhooth bol rahi hai. (She’s doesn’t have her facts right)
Barkha: He has this air about him that makes him feel like he’s not approachable, but he’s a sweetheart. And I’ve had an amazing, amazing time, shooting this with Ritwik as my fiancé.
7. Ritwik, you also get a chance to say something unexpected about Barkha….
Ritwik: I’m not going to say anything. I’m going to make somebody who’s the most reliable person in this group say something, Madhuri ma’am am I unapproachable or not?
Madhuri: He’s a sweetheart of a boy. And the first time I saw him, it was like bohot acha bacha hai. Aisa lagta hai ki isko dress up karke school bheja padega. Neat and very obedient.
8. Srishti your role comes across as so real – what’s the favorite thing about how your character pans out in the film?
Srishti: It’s got a lot happening. Tara Patel’s characters have a lot of stuff going on. She comes from a certain place, she thinks a certain way. She’s very clear about how she feels, and then something happens in the film and there’s a crisis, and how she deals with that. There are times when she’s extremely vulnerable. So there’s so much happening with the character, it was so much fun playing her because I got to explore so much as an actor.
9. Ritwik, how relatable do you feel the characters of the film are for the audience?
Ritwik: Well, very honestly I think this is a story that could be anybody’s. My family, your family, our neighbors but it had the most unique approach in finding and telling or expressing emotions because of the kind of layering that the story has, the kind of conflicts it has, the kind of things that it’s talking about. t’s not preachy at all. It’s a conversation. It’s a conversation being made between people, between relationships, between emotions, between the past, the present, and so on and so forth. And these conversations unfold a lot of these emotions that each one of us feels, if not daily, then sometime in our life or the other. And everything is so relatable.
10. Since adjectives were what the trailer began with. I want each of you to use one adjective that defines your favorite thing about your character in the film.
Ritwik: I would say, lover. Is lover an adjective? Not really. But of course, He’s a lover. He’s in love with his family.
Barkha: About Esha, I think compassionate. Compassionate would be the adjective I’d use for Esha.
Srishti: I think if you don’t use it negatively, she’s very beautifully possessive about her family.