For those who complain that India does not come out with good intelligent cinema, they are seriously mistaken. Sadly, most of the best films that actually come out of India do not house big stars and neither are they heavily publicized. Such is the same for Thanks Maa. The brainchild of director Irfan Kamal, Thanks Maa falls into the category of Traffic Signal, Salaam Bombay and even slightly, Slumdog Millionaire. Dealing with street and slum children, Thanks Maa focuses on an issue that is not normally spoken about and is actually not even dealt with. For the most part, street children are harassed and abandoned, but not given any opportunities to get off the streets, and be educated citizens. Thanks Maa looks at the life of these children in hopes to open the eyes of the public and even more government officials.
A group of young slum kids, Alman Khan also known as Municipality Ghatkopar (Shams Patel), Soda (Salman), Cutting (Fayaaz), Dedh Shaana (Jaffar) and Sursuri (Almas) make a living stealing and finding small jobs to feed themselves. It is the orphaned Alman who is finally caught for a petty crime and is sent to a children’s home. During his time at the children’s home, he comes under the eye of the lustful warden (Alok Nath). The pedophile scares Alman who decides to make a run for it and while escaping picks up a newly abandoned baby off the steps of the home. After he is safely out of the area, he attempts to try and find the mother of the child, whom they name Krish. The rest of the children help Alman in his search. As the story progresses, Alman is introduced to a number of characters who claim to be the father of the child and a whole range of other people who claim to be helpful. The story takes a turn for the worst when the mother is found and a number of secrets are disclosed.
There is only one word to describe Thanks Maa: breath-taking. As a director, Kamal does complete justice to a fabulously written script. Every scene speaks for itself and flows into the next. The writers deserve a special mention for writing the script so close to real life. The language used is genuine as well as the situations. As a script, the film is just amazing. Mumbai is seen from a totally raw viewpoint. You are not introduced to the fancy side of the city, but the dirty slumy areas which are normally ignored. And don’t expect a sweet ending here; the climax is shocking and scandalous.
Where do I even begin with the performances? The children are simply superb. And for trivia purposes, all of the child artistes are first timers who picked up the street lingo so efficiently and easily, it is commendable. Once again full marks to Kamal for managing to compile this cast and further direct the children to almost perfection. The main protagonist Shams Patel’s performance is award worthy; yes, he is that good. The rest of the children are natural and amazing. The adults in the film provide great support, but the film belongs to the kids no doubt.
It is so sad that a film like this is going and will go unnoticed. If any film deserves to be sent to the Oscars from India next, it is Thanks Maa. Kamal is one of director who is spot on with his script and execution. Technically this is a story that could have been dull and dreary. However, Kamal is so apt and smart about his execution, that at no point do you feel like the film is depressing. Thanks Maa is a must must must watch. You’ll forget Slumdog Millionaire; that’s a guarantee.