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HomeFeaturesReel TakeNetflix’s Mai is ‘sanskari bahu’ gone rogue. Thank Sakshi Tanwar’s sheer brilliance

Netflix’s Mai is ‘sanskari bahu’ gone rogue. Thank Sakshi Tanwar’s sheer brilliance

Mai may not be a unique crime-thriller but Sakshi Tanwar and the cast will ensure that it's worth your time. 

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If I was told in 2008 that one of Hindi television’s favourite bahus — Parvati — would ditch the cloak of righteousness and take it to the streets to avenge her daughter’s death, I would have discarded the news as rubbish. In one sentence, Mai, on Netflix, is ‘Parvati gone rogue’. Who would have thought?

Mai, a six-episode series, has Sakshi Tanwar playing the titular role of Sheel Chaudhary. The first season is a crime-thriller set in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow that is triggered by the death of Sheel’s mute daughter in the initial 10 minutes.

The narrative keeps you hooked but lingers away too often. Mai offers a competent story with a patchy screenplay. In the midst of all, it is Tanwar’s sheer brilliance as an actor that emerges as the biggest selling point for Atul Mongia’s directorial debut. Mongia is also credited as the creator and writer of the show.

The web series has been produced by Clean Slate Filmz, a production house established by actor Anushka Sharma and her brother Karnesh Ssharma in 2013. Last month, she stepped away from her role saying that she wants to dedicate more time to her first love — acting.


Also read: You can’t ignore ‘Veyil’ on Amazon Prime, the Malayalam family drama keeps luring you back


Sanskari bahu to avenging mother

Sheel showcases glimpses of Parvati, a “well-cultured” (sanskari) bahu. But that is limited to the confines of her household and in front of her extended family. But Sheel does not enjoy the same reputation Parvati did, more so following her daughter Supriya’s (Wamiq Gabbi) death in a road accident (read: murder) in front of her eyes.

Seeing loopholes in the investigation of the case, Sheel takes it upon herself to uncover the truth. When she tries to share the initial information she had gathered by digging around, her husband Yash (Vivek Mushran) says, “Kya kar rahi ho tum, Sheel? Tum detective nahi ho (What are you doing, Sheel? You are not a detective)”. She retorts by saying that only she seems to be bothered by the glaring discrepancies in the verdict of Supriya’s death case.

As the father chooses to grieve more openly, the mother immerses herself in a mission to find her daughter’s murderer.

Seeing Sheel getting harassed, abused, and intimidated by most men she encounters as she is hell-bent on finding her daughter’s murderer sets a precedent for a new brand of parenthood in Hindi cinema. Although it is not a new revelation (looking at Sridevi in Mom and Sushmita Sen’s Aarya), witnessing Tanwar play this character is surely refreshing.


Also read: AltBalaji is the Netflix of the Ekta Kapoor world. And flaunts more than saas-bahu serials


Wholesome characters

Besides Tanwar’s performance, the medley of wholesome characters is yet another strong pillar backing up Mai.

Most of the supporting characters are not just for the optics. They are fleshed out and help one understand the nuances of human personality. For instance, Raima Sen’s character (Neelam) takes over the reins of a deceased mastermind’s legacy. She is badass and powerful but still has a hard time convincing her subordinates to take orders from a woman, especially someone who had once been a sex worker.

Other characters, too, have their respective backstories. There is one who suffered child abuse, two others are living in the closet, and another is stuck in an incompatible marriage.

Mushran as Supriya’s father is perfectly cast as he navigates the vulnerability and stoic aspects of the character with ease. The veteran actor Seema Pahwa comes on screen for a few scenes, and, as always, shines. Among others, Prashant (played by Anant Vidhaat Sharma) and Shankar (Vaibhav Raj Gupta) are the perfect condiments needed to make this show stronger.

All in all, Mai may not offer a unique crime-thriller but Tanwar and the remaining cast will ensure that it’s worth your time.

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If I was told in 2008 that one of Hindi television’s favourite bahus — Parvati — would ditch the cloak of righteousness and take it to the streets to avenge her daughter’s death, I would have discarded the news as rubbish. In one sentence,...Netflix’s Mai is ‘sanskari bahu’ gone rogue. Thank Sakshi Tanwar’s sheer brilliance
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