‘Maya Miriga’ Screened At BFF; A Masterpiece & One Of Odisha Cinema’s Finest

Bhubaneswar: Among the films screened on Day 1 of the Bhubaneswar Film Festival (BFF) was ‘Maya Miriga’ — one of Odisha’s finest.

A poignant take on the Indian joint family and its conflicts with urbanised changes, this masterpiece by Nirad Mahapatra is a lesson on the simplicity of cinema.

Providing a window into the lives of a typical Odia family in the 1980s, the story flows seamlessly, never letting you think about introductions, intermissions or climaxes. An air of calm and quiet takes over the audience as the dialogues guide them through the story.

A teacher, who is near retirement, lives with his family in the small city of Puri. The essence of a joint family is felt with an unending hustle-bustle of characters within the scenes. Nearly all frames showcase two or three characters talking or moving around with no specific relation to each other’s work.

Each character is developed gradually through their words and actions, not once requiring a backstory or montage to explain their sequence of life. Interestingly, no one is portrayed as a protagonist or antagonist, as a hierarchy of relations is portrayed without the use of oppression as a tool.

The elder son takes responsibility of the family after his father, and his wife looks after the household, while the second son is busy preparing for IAS exams.

The third is stuck in a haze, neither hanging on to academics nor having any other ambition, while the fourth is a rebel clutching on to sports and studies.

The daughter-in-law and mother speak with an equal voice as the males of the house, while the grandmother provides comic relief. This dynamic is hurdled, first with the success of the second son becoming an IAS, then with the self-centred attitude of the new bride that he brings home.

The emotional turmoil between the relationships of each member takes a strong turn towards the end, but the audience does not get the desired closure. The film has an open end. With no character in the wrong and each having its sympathiser, the audience is posed with the question of a joint family being the answer to urbanisation, or a burden on the dreams of the individual.

The slow and steady pace allows the characters and the story to breathe. The film’s music is powerful as it is emoted only during times of solitude or turmoil within the characters.

The film beautifully proves how simplicity, rawness and genuine genius of the storyteller can propel a project to its pinnacle.

In the end, the audience is left wondering, ‘What happened to us?’

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