Thanks Maa is a superb story of 2 days in the life of an orphaned homeless boy and how his life changes, when he battles to help an infant reach its mother.
Cast: Master Shams, Ranvir Shorey, Mukta Barve, Alok Nath, Raghuveer Yadav, Barry John, Sanjay Mishra, Jalees Sherwani, Ajay Vincent
Director: Irfan Kamal
Music: Sajid Wajid
Like prostitutes in the movie who didn’t find an infant boy profitable to their profession and chose to abandon him, the media channels too have completely ignored this master stroke of a movie as it does nothing to their revenues and TRPs.
“Maa ka naam Municipality, baap ka naam Ghatkopar, baki kuch bhi likho par orphan mat likhna.” The words hold so much weight when uttered by an 11-year-old orphan who gave the only thing he had to a tiny 2-day-old baby boy he found in front of an orphanage. This movie comes as a revelation as nowhere ever have I seen it being mentioned at the awards shows.
While people go gaga over Chillar Party, Hawa Hawaai, Taare Zameen Par, etc. I feel such a masterpiece has been kept obscure from the masses due to lack of publicity and no big star names attached with it.
Written and directed by Irfan Kamal who had been associated with movies like Krrish 3, this wonderful movie was released in 2009. Either I missed it then or it is really not known to the movie goers what a gem of a movie has been made.
The film revolves around a serious issue being faced by kids globally and in India – child abandonment and abuse. A group of teen-aged boys and a girl headed by Soda (Master Salman) make ends meet by pick pocketing and doing odd jobs. Refusing to indulge in bad habits and wrongful ways to earn money is Soda’s friend Municipality (Master Shams).
Abandoned in a municipality hospital by his parents he goes every week to check if anyone has come to look for him. A chain of events make him land up in a correction home for three months. He manages to save himself from the hands of the pedophile warden (Alok Nath in a surprising cameo) and plans his escape but only after he has picked up a newborn baby from the steps of the home in a desperate bid to save the infant from abusive hands.
The young brave-heart takes up the responsibility to fend for the baby, who he names Krish, till he can reunite him with his mom. His innocent heart believes that no mother can abandon her child willfully and he assumes that it must be a case of child theft from the hospital.
And thus begins his nerve-wrecking journey through the streets of Mumbai to find the missing links. With the help of his friends, he looks into every nook and corner which can give a clue to the infant’s family. However, even where people could have helped him and the helpless baby, Municipality and his tiny companion find themselves at the receiving end of the selfish and coward mentality of the society. Instead of breaking his will, this indifference and insensitivity of the society makes his resolve stronger to deliver the baby only into his mother’s hands.
What follows is a heart-rending, horror tale well and truly lived through by these kids’ characters. Eunuchs, prostitutes, hospital nurses, the police, and all those capable of helping the baby are out there to make money out of him. The only thing that keeps Municipality hold on to hope and sanity is his conviction that mothers don’t abandon their kids.
The climax scene where he does finally locate Krish’s mother only to realize that the infant was the unfortunate result of the sex abuse she had been facing from her own father, he loses hope of ever reuniting the mother and the child and gives Krish his name.
Finally, coming to terms with the harsh reality, he gives Krish up for care in a church orphanage only to make sure of his safety. The young but undaunted Municipality then goes out in the world to take up a responsibility that the adults shamelessly shunned.
Where does this wonderful movie score? Everywhere.
Thanks Maa brings to the surface all the hardships the young lives in India are facing and how they are fending for themselves in the toughest of circumstances. Beggary, pickpocketing, drugs, child abuse, child prostitution, child kidnapping for making them eunuchs, unhealthy living conditions are the routine in their young lives.
The issue of adults abandoning their infants in garbage bins, orphanages, road side dumps and hospitals is so common and unaddressed, the movie reminds you how conveniently the Indian government and society has forgotten all about these unfortunate children.
The hero of the movie is an unknown child called Master Shams. If he is a professional actor he has done such a commendable job he could be at par with Darsheel Safary in Taare Zameen Par. His street-loitering friends Sursuri, Soda, Cutting, Dedh Shaana (Almas, Salman, Jaffer and Faiyyaz) add so much spice to the lives of these child characters that it’s hard to fathom if they are really slum children or professional actors.
The director has done a great job in not making the mistake most other directors make in such movies and that is of delving into each and everyone’s past life and narrating/depicting personal horror stories. The focus never ever leaves the abandoned infant Krish and his savior Municipality Ghatkopar so stupendously played by Shams.
Surprise packages of the movie who leave us gaping in wonder are Sanjay Mishra (as opium addict Yusuf Taxi Driver) who dares to bare his posterior when his clothes are stolen by kids to make him blurt out the truth and also Aloknath in a never seen before role of a pedophile. His lust filled eyes for the little boy are hard to forget.
Raghubir Yadav as the unscrupulous peon of the Municipality Office who has no qualms accepting bribes is effective. His sadness at the fate of abandoned children and of not being able to do anything about it is evident and is barely masked by the casualness of his appearance. One more cameo that surprised was of Ranvir Shorey as the husband who blatantly cheats on his wife.
Thanks Maa never moves away from realism. There are no fake sets, no overdone makeup, no overacting by eunuchs, no melodrama by kids, no unnecessary sad songs and mouthful of dialogues.
In more ways than one Irfan Kamal’s direction reminds of Anurag Kashyap style of direction. Tight, real, on your face, matter of fact and full of abusive language so easily spoken out loud by each and every one including kids without any undertones of hesitation, disgust or hamming. At a perfect length of 2 hours, this movie is a superb story of 2 days in the life of an orphaned homeless boy and how his life changes.
It’s unlike me to write such lengthy write-ups on movies. But very rarely I come across a movie whose story must be told, shouted out loud at the top of your voice, to force people to watch and reflect.
Even if 5 people get inspired to watch this movie and pledge that they would never ever ignore an abandoned child, my write-up has paid off. I wonder why the movie has never been seen on TV channels where flop star studded meaningless movies are telecast repeatedly 24 hours.
To those readers who watch meaningful movies with relevance to society they MUST watch and support Thanks Maa. A movie deserving all the praise and accolades.
Shakun Rana Narang is Administrator of Moviemaniacs Facebook Group. The opinions shared by the reviewers are their personal opinions and does not reflect the collective opinion of Moviemaniacs Facebook Group or Silhouette Magazine. All pictures used in this article are movie stills from the Internet
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