Watch Listen Amaya for Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval, writes Sukanya Verma.
Parents are protective about their children and children are possessive about their parents. It’s a well-defined relationship based on one’s unconditional love and the other’s inborn tendency to take it for granted.
But what happens when for once in his/her life, this symbol of benevolence thinks of putting himself/herself as just an individual?
With Listen Amaya, first-time director Avinash Kumar Singh tries to explore attributes like expectation, insecurity and acceptance in a mother-daughter relationship and how it adapts or rejects change in context of a visibly urban, evolved Indian family. The Rishi Kapoor-Dimple Kadadia starrer Pyaar Mein Twist has a similar premise but is much too melodramatic in comparison to Amaya, which treats the natural progression of these delicate events with sensitivity.
Being the proverbial small film with a heart, Listen Amaya may not have the appearance of a generous budget (and often looks like a made-for-television project) -- elegant not opulent. Its real strength doesn’t come from production values but two of the most natural actors of Hindi cinema (Farookh Shaikh, Deepti Naval) and a remarkable young woman (Swara Bhaskar).
And so we zoom into tastefully done cafes and homes of Delhi suburbs and characters where men dress in crisp, pastel linens and women stick to stunning ethnic or sharp western clothing and everybody is educated, broad-minded, articulate and knowledgeable. It’s a very credible setup with none of the three key actors belong to the ‘look, I’m acting’ school of thought. The rest -- unbiased friends, mandatory suitor -- simply blur around their blaze.
Only personal experiences can test one’s extent of progressiveness. And that’s precisely what a budding writer Amaya (Bhaskar) figures on discovering her mom Leela (Naval), who runs a unique book cafe, has found a companion in an affable photographer Jayant (Shaikh). Before this, things were comfortable and cordial, so much that Amaya and Jayant even collaborate on a coffee table book about a quaint bazaar of Old Delhi.
Bhaskar conveys the hurt and resentment of an only child furious with the possibility of someone else replacing her deceased father’s memory and, more importantly, losing her mother to another man. It triggers some revolting behavior on her part, which is gracefully tolerated by both the elders.
Even though these events unfold very slowly and simplistically against a bland background score and you know where it’s all headed, the charming presence of these actors keeps you glued to your seats.
That’s the thing, you see? One already nurses inherent fondness for artists like Shaikh, Naval and even the beautiful Amala Akkinenni (making a rare appearance), which has only intensified with time and memories given their body of work. So it’s good to see Miss Chamko (he even refers her as that in one scene) and her Tutti Frutti date sharing a table demonstrating a chemistry that has grown in friendship and dignity.
We are still demure about intimacy when it concerns senior citizen and so the mention of sex leads to frowns. Listen Amaya isn’t complex enough to entertain any more ideas but needlessly squeezes in a sub-plot involving Alzheimer’s.
The actor who only recently dazzled as a corrupt bureaucrat in Shanghai plays a sweet, friendly man fighting inner demons lending nuances to deceptively simple lines and turning them into profound statements. Deepti Naval compliments Shaikh’s light disposition and serenity with a measured delivery that highlights her poise and accessibility. As the troubled and antsy Amaya, Swara Bhaskar reminiscent of a young Kajol. Her meltdown from denial to approval is so heartfelt; it’s hard to grudge her earlier protests.
These three are the only reason you will want to Listen.