'Jai Santoshi Maa' had created hysteria when it had released first in the seventies. It went on to become one of the all time blockbusters of Hindi Cinema. So, when you are trying to make another film with the same title, obviously the responsibility is immense. But with the festive season on in full swing, I think it is the perfect time for director Ahmed Siddiqui's version to have hit the screens. If you were a prompt watcher of tele serials like Mahabharata and Ramayana, then you'd want to feast on this special effects saga told in a simple manner.
Mahima (Nusrat Bharucha) has a great belief in the esteem of Santoshi Maa while her husband Anurag (Rakesh Bapat) is a charmer with music as his passion. Now, it so happens that Mahima's dad is a musician himself but their marriage is against the wishes of Anurag's parents. It goes without saying that they have to go through a lot of strife-torn-times. Things come to a standstill when Anurag decides to leave his parents to try his luck elsewhere. But in a typical Hindustani-Naari-manner she stays back to assist her in-laws. Now, the regular K-Serials drama unfolds as Mahima is ridiculed and berated by every member of the family.
Mahima turns to Santoshi Maa for mercy and starts worshipping her with a renewed zeal. The rest is predictable. But the manner in which divinity comes into play will endear to the Believers. When the earlier 'Jai Santoshi Maa' had released there was no TV while today in an era of two hundred television channels, every other channel is beaming out the Saas-Bahu tiffs-n-make-up. So, in such a time and age the novelty value of such mythological fare is limited. Nevertheless, the Indian public still loves its mythological fare and loads of emotional melodrama. And a big screen always offers a better option.
The music of the film has been done by Anu Malik while there are two numbers from the original. 'Main To Aarti Utaron Re Jai Santoshi Maata Ki' is a goose pimple evoking bhajan while 'Yahan Wahan' is likable too. In the latest version, my personal favourite is 'Maa Santoshi...Jai Jai Maa' sung beautifully by Alka Yagnik. Here I must add that music plays a very important role in a mythological and in this case it does full justice to the tone and tenor of the movie.
Rakesh Bapat is a decent actor who has acted in a string of flops. This is his chance where he can get noticed because of the theme of the film. Although he is subdued but still the chances are that his charming nature will be liked. Nusrat Bharucha has a future. For she has not only acted well, she has also shown a lot of conviction while expressing her belief in the Goddess.
Director Ahmed Siddiqui has made an honest attempt to match the earlier version. And the results are a mixed bag. The Power one associates with such themes fluctuates. There are moments in the film where he has handled the Dramatic Shenanigans convincingly while there are still other sections where the efforts fall flat. It would be interesting to see what he can do with a regular theme. Or has he decided to make a mark for himself only as a Mythological director?
'Jai Santoshi Maa' is an easy-on-your-nerves film made with honesty. The timing of its release is perfect as people are in a devotional mood. But besides that it will have difficulty at the ticket window. Watch it for its devotional quotient.
Jai Santoshi Maa: For-the-Believers
Star Rating: **1/2