Shaji N. Karun
India. 109 min. 2018
The story of a girl Maya (Esther Anil), who is raped and discarded in the Kerala backwaters. She mysteriously survives underwater and is carrying a child. On full moon nights, she can see above water and on one such night, she sees a painter Vasu (Shane Nigam), as he is wandering the waters on his boat. An unsuccessful and uninspired artist, Vasu is struggling to create something spectacular in his paintings. Maya decides to help and empowers him to create a painting which changes his life. As Maya falls in love, she confronts Vasu’s contrasting ideas about love and realize that they seek different things from each other.
Set in a village, the film blends ancient beliefs, customs, religion, and mythology to create a densely layered film which engages on several counts. In imagining a different fate for its protagonist, melding her fate with that of a goddess, the film offers the woman an empowering choice instead of the one intended by her rapists.
The role of nature as the giver of life and beauty is foregrounded and intertwined with Maya, as nature finds primacy in the mythology of the goddess as well as in the creativity of the artist. The stunning choreography, a hallmark of Karun’s films, brings this unusual fantasy to life as the Kerala backwaters are created in exquisite detail.