Mai Series Review: Sakshi Tanwar’s Show is Slow and Unsteady

The unblemished superstar of Indian Television, Sakshi Tanwar, has a unique blend of characters to her name. Be it Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’s Parvati or Dangal’s Daya KaurSakshi is popular across domains.

The latest addition to her portfolio is Netflix’s new series, Mai, her second OTT outing after Dial 100. Mai’s teasers and trailers had received a positive word of mouth, and people desperately awaited its premiere.

Now since the show is out in the open, does it come good on the hype or not is a question to consider for cine-lovers.

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Mai Review Summary

Though the Netflix show surmounts cliches in terms of a woman being the main protagonist, it fails to hold the story for long, owing to its slow pace. However, Mai does have several sparks. Read on to find out how the series fares against different aspects.

Mai Synopsis

The latest Netflix show, Mai, stars Sakshi Tanwar (Sheel) in the lead role, and it is directed by Anshai Lal. Other significant characters are played by actors like Wamiqa Gabbi (Supriya), Vivek Mushran (Yash), Raima Dev Varma (Neelam), Prashant Narayanan (Jawahar), Seema Pahwa, Anant Vidhaat (Prashant), Vaibhav Raj Gupta (Shankar), Ankur Ratan (Farooq Siddiqui), and Saurabh Dubey (Raghu), among others. 

The entire 6-episode series is based on the premise of a mother (Sheel) fighting the odds to find the truth behind her daughter’s (Supriya) death, who gets killed in a road accident.

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What works for Mai?

Performances

When a show is led by the prowess of Sakshi Tanwar, it is tough to bypass the performance metric. A mother’s pain after witnessing her child’s death from close quarters is unimaginable. To picturize such a scenario is even more challenging, and putting yourself in the mother’s shoes is the hardest.

Makers of Mai needed an actor who could effortlessly deliver on the emotional front. They roped in Sakshi Tanwar, a household name in the Indian Television Industry. She aces her part and ensures an experience one would have expected before beginning to binge-watch the show.

Tanwar’s restrained excitement, articulate emotions, and resolute determination spell magic on screen. She leads the show with full responsibility and acuity. Had there been a fault in presenting the feelings and grit of a mother, the poorly-written script would have made Mai unbearable to watch.

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The best part about Sakshi Tanwar playing Sheel is that nothing in her act feels like a forced intrusion. Her dialogues seem to be originating from within and have a natural taste. Moreover, Sakshi goes a long way in presenting the true vigor of a mother. There are several instances of her crying with zero anticipation of what she has to do next on the screen.

Vivek Mushran also delivers an excellent performance despite getting a restrained screen time. He is full of calmness and warmth, unlike the usual representation of fathers where they try to overpower their act with emotions and masculinity.

The duo of Anant Vidhaat and Vaibhav Raj Gupta work in tandem to produce a lovely chemistry. Both are underrated and underestimated. While Anant is known for his performance in Sultan, Vaibhav resonates with the audience through Gullak.

Another sweet and endearing representation comes from Wamiqa Gabbi. She plays Supriya’s character, who cannot speak but is smart and wise. Throughout her restricted screen time, Gabbi keeps you engaged and maintains the adorable side of the show.

Raima Dev Varma does a fantastic job as Neelam, and the much talented Prashant Narayanan outdoes himself like every time. Moreover, Ankur Ratan is a class apart as he plays the head of UP Police’s SPF.

If there’s one thing Mai should be remembered for, it is the performances of the lead and supporting cast.

Direction

Anshai Lal, who made his directorial debut with Anushka Sharma’s Phillauri, beautifully takes forward the series till the end. He achieves the perfect emotional quotient through his intellectual direction. However, Anshai is let down by a flawed script.

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What Doesn’t work for Mai?

Story

The makers of Mai try everything at their disposal to make the show binge-worthy. From thrill, mystery, and emotions to romance and criminal conspiracies, Mai has an eclectic mix of elements. But does all of it combined make Mai better? No.

Mai lacks the punch its story should have had. Written by three writers, what could have been a masterpiece rests as an average flick. Maybe, there’s an overdose of components; otherwise, the story should have looked spectacular with so much time.

Screenplay

Mai’s screenplay is not amongst the best. It is more or less flawed, to say the least. Though the story’s puzzles don’t confuse you, they don’t make a constructive impact either.

Several things could have been better, including the introduction of characters, a little more depth to the antagonist’s criminal profile, and, specifically, the positioning of Supriya’s flashbacks.

With a better screenplay, Mai wouldn’t have been a predictable affair. 

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Pace of Narration

The Netflix show is slow and unsteady in the race to becoming a cinematic marvel. It doesn’t really pick up after the first episode sets the plot. Recently, the same platform showcased The Fame Game, which had the same sort of speed. However, it didn’t stay like that forever.

Take the example of Jalsa that streamed on Amazon Prime recently. It was also slow, but the film was able to pick up when it mattered the most, making for a treat towards the end. Mai fails terribly with its unending slow pace of narration.

Understandably, the background and plot demanded smooth and gentle handling of the tale, but the story had to pick up somewhere for the climax to hit the right chords, which never happens.  

Though the show is only 6-episode long, it feels lengthier due to the slowness.

Poor Ending

How can you even think of leaving a show like Mai on a cliffhanger? Just because multi-season series are in trend doesn’t mean every other display can be like that. Mai’s ending could have been far better than it is.

The makers wasted at least the last twenty minutes for nothing. 

Missing Links

There are several queries that the series poses but never answers. For example, in one of the scenes, a character says to another, “Are you ready to go against your father?” but there’s no mention of what that dialogue meant.

It is riddled with multiple such instances where either a character appears or withers away in a vague manner or scenes made up just to entertain the horrible script.

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Mai FAQs (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

Mai Ending Explained

Towards the end of Mai, Sheel discovers the truth about her daughter’s death and realizes that she was being played upon by her most trusted soldier. Though the twist seems unnecessary, it probably makes us think that another season is coming up.

The second season theory is also valid because Prashant gets access to the cash house of Mr. Goyal, and he is given a responsible position by the head of the human-trafficking cartel.

Will there be a second season of Mai?

Going by the ending, yes, there will be a second season of Mai. However, no official confirmation is there yet.

Who is the writer of Mai?

Mai is written by Atul Mongia, Tamal Sen, and Amita Vyas. 

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