2 out of 5 (40%) reviewers would recommend
STORY: A lonely woman starts getting love letters from a long lost admirer. Little does she know that the letters are a silly teenage prank.
Remember Makdee? Vishal Bhardwaj's superbly crafted suspenseful debut, in which a ghoulish woman turns a teenager into her errand-girl? Dear Maya ditches the witchcraft element, but its first half has an unmissable similarity to the 2002 sleeper hit. Here, Maya (Koirala) keeps to herself in her ancestral home packed with Rajputana antiques, her caged birds and her two dogs. Two schoolgirls from her neighbourhood, Anna (Imam) and Ira (Chaudhary), pity her sorry existence and decide to write love letters to her, to invoke a sense of hope in her life. The plan works, and Maya Devi-in a literal and metaphorical scene-starts opening doors and windows to let the sunshine in. Until one of the letters arrives with a return address, and Maya ups and leaves to find her mystery man. Anna is riddled with guilt and starts looking for Maya while her friendship with Ira collapses. The movie has a lot of honesty at its core, but loses momentum because of logistic loopholes. There are continuity errors-the first letter that Anna writes isn't the first letter that Maya reads-and logical flaws. Why does Anna spend six years looking for Maya, without looking into that return address first? Why doesn't she file a missing person's report? Surely Maya's real-estate agent has some kind of a forwarding address? In spite of the irregularities, director Sunaina Bhatnagar keeps the feeling from ebbing. She's good at extracting the right emotion even out of contrived situations. She super-sizes symbolism (red is the color of love; getting drenched in the rain is liberating; reclusive woman has caged birds, etc) and serves up a film that's sporadically sweet. Like the times when Manisha Koirala is on screen. Her talent deserves far more than a movie that is this in-your-face. Debutantes Madiha and Shreya have a good energy about them, but their stories are too plain to give them a scope to perform. Dear Maya works like a folded love-note slyly passed around a classroom: brief and heart-warming. But also obvious, in a sense that you see it coming your way