A wildlife photographer going home after an assignment is asked to help a Tamilian traditional housewife on her way back to her in-laws by her father. They travel in a red and white bus (The first lines of the movie) to their destination knowing little that the journey would change their lives forever. “Mr and Mrs Iyer” (MAMI) is a story of two individual belonging to a different religion and different social background brought together by circumstances.
The story starts with a wildlife photographer Jahangir Chowdhury a.k.a Raja who is on his way home after an assignment in the forest. He is asked to help, if necessary a south Indian Iyer woman, Meenakshi who is going back to her in-laws. The bus passes through a town burning in a Hindu-Muslim riots and they are forced to pretend as Mr. and Mrs. Iyer for the other passenger as well as rioters and police. Two people brought together by circumstances.
The movie is a love story but not where the hero and heroine come together but still the story is about love. Sure there is the riots and the reason they come together are the riots but that is just in the background. The real story is love between these two individuals and how loves blossoms between them. At the same time the movie deals with more ground-hitting realities like the rift between Hindus and Muslims, the caste system in the days of information technology etc.
The Iyers – Rahul Bose and Konkana Sen-Sharma
The movie has its tender moments and the end is just as logical conclusion without going into melodrama. Directed by Aparna Sen who debuted with “36 Chowringhee Lane” in 1981, she handles the subject quite effectively. Without going into the details about who is wrong in the riots and without offering any solution to the problem, she deals with the emotion of two different people keeping the riots as a trigger and a reason for the story.
Rahul Bose plays Jahangir Chowdhury, the wildlife photographer. He handles the role with quite ease. He plays the part with sensitivity and compassion. He is a fine actor and handles his part with ease.
The other star of the movie is Konkana Sen-Sharma. This was long before she became famous with “Page 3”. The first time I saw the movie, I literally thought she was a south-Indian actress. The strong tamilian accent should certainly point to the efforts gone by the director and the actress to make the role more believable.
The movie does not have any songs which is good but background score and songs by Ustad Zakir Husaain which remains in your head for a long time. The songs are based on Indian classical music of ‘Drupad‘ which shows how classical music can be used effectively in mainstream cinema.
“MAMI” isn’t a typical Indian movie nor it’s an art movie. In a typical Indian statement, its different. It does not preach Hindu-Muslim unity because its about two people who belong to different religion. The assumption Meenakshi makes about Rahul Bose because he is a Muslim is what we all make regarding a particular community. When we interact with individuals and they come close, we tend to forget their caste, religion etc. The movie is disturbing from the first credits. The movie takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions.
I have seen the movie many times and sometimes I just jump from situation to situation to my favorite sequences like
- The first time Meenakshi knows that Raja is a Muslim and the guilt she has when she has accidently drank from the same water bottle as his.
- The attack on the bus when an old Muslim couple is taken out of the bus and Meenakshi introducing Raja as her husband, Mr. Iyer.
- The morning after a night in the bungalow in the forest when Meenakshi thinks that Raja has abandon them.
- The night when they spent in the balcony of the forest bungalow listening to dew drops falling down breaking the silence of the forrest.
- The first time Meenakshi sees a man being killed from the bungalow. The man is not shown being killed but the whole scene is based on Meenakshi’s and Raja’s reaction alone.
- Raja telling a group of teenagers of his love story and honeymoon with Meenakshi which he had never gone.
- The train journey before the climax when Meenakshi realizes that she will never see Raja after the journey.
- The climax scene of “Goodbye Mr. Iyer”
“MAMI” remains one of my top favorite movies, a journey everyone should take once.
My rating 8.5/10.