Madhuri Dixit, Anand Tiwari Discuss Maja Ma, Its Spirit Of Acceptance And Diversity

In an interview with SheThePeople.TV, actor Madhuri Dixit and director Anand Tiwari discuss their film Maja Ma, the intent behind the film's storyline, their effort in bringing relevant issues to screen, and why acceptance is the primary factor in bringing about change. 

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Madhuri Dixit Anand Tiwari, Maja Ma
The recently released  film Maja Ma managed to push the envelope while keeping its entertainment quotient intact. The film, which illustrates society's duality, the convenient woke culture, and people's desire to alter the world while doing little to change themselves, is making the right noise.

In an interview with SheThePeople.TV, actor Madhuri Dixit and director Anand Tiwari discuss their film Maja Ma, the intent behind the film's storyline, their effort in bringing relevant issues to screen, and why acceptance is the primary factor in bringing about change.

What led to the creation of Maja Ma

The film explores a topic that is rarely touched. For director Anand Tiwari, the film was an amalgamation of a series of significant conversations around the LGBTQIA+ community he had over the years with his friends and colleagues in the industry. As Maja Ma deepens its resolve in surfacing an underlying conversation that was a long time coming, it's interesting to learn about the journey.  Tiwari took to decode the entire process of how he wanted the film to come across. Sharing with us what led him to create the film he says, "To be honest, it's been a four-five-year journey dealing with the subject. It started, really, with the writer, Sumit Bhateja, whom I had a conversation with, followed by a thorough discussion with Amritpal, the producer of this film, about a few people that were around us who were dealing with their challenges - of how it is so difficult for them to come out to their own people. We then started looking at individuals in and around our age who were dealing with this."

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Tiwari recalled the time when he acknowledged the challenges the older generation of the LGBTQIA+ community faces in coming out to their families and in society. His conversation carried with how it’s still easier, although to a small extent, for younger people to have the support base around them today to come out to their families in general. Tiwari's research led to an understanding of the struggles older people have been facing for generations. "We started talking to a lot of people who are experts in the conversations and we started extending this conversation to the individuals who are living a dual life, in marriages or otherwise. Some of them do come out to partners, but it’s only an arrangement of an understanding between them, which is secrecy."

"We’re simply showing acceptance through our film. Accept people and love them for who they are, not for who you want them to be. That’s the message we want to spread." - Madhuri Dixit

Dixit discusses that normalising the conversation around the LGBTQIA+ community at the familial level will follow with more conversations around it. She says, "It begins with a dialogue. The more we talk about it like we're doing in our film, the more we'll be able to reach that stage of acceptance as a society," Maja Ma's storyline doesn't railroad into pushing people to believe in a certain set of ideas, it is trying to spread the message of acceptance. Extending the conversation on how they intended to bring this topic to life, she adds, "We’re trying not to tell people the right and wrong. We’re simply showing acceptance through our film. Accept people and love them for who they are, not for who you want them to be."

"We wanted to share the message that a woman is just not limited to her relations; she is a human being and much more. She is an individual who has her own identity beyond relations." - Anand Tiwari

Tiwari shares that before the film went on floors, he and his team did thorough research on this conversation and their biggest takeaway was the need for acceptance. As a filmmaker, he started to understand that for people dealing with the taboo of owning their sexual orientation that society doesn't approve of, what mattered most to them was acceptance. What gave the story a real base, he says, was the notion that if the people who are important to you accept you, the job is done. "Acceptance became the real theme that we wanted to talk about from the point of view of a mother, a wife, and a woman who is so important in her society, that she is much more than that, and if we can accept her for who she is and who she wants to be - at a particular time that she is in -  and we’re ready to accept that then the job of us as a society is done," he describes.


"A woman is always part of the community and an important part of the fabric of the society. Women not only bring families together but also communities together."

Madhuri Dixit, who played the central character of Pallavi Patel, a quintessential family person who is a devoted wife and a doting mother, closely identified with the essence of the character as a whole. As a prolonged phenomenon in every household, we often take our mothers for granted. Playing a character like Pallavi, a beloved mother who is regarded as a go-to person in the family, and is termed as a goddess of all things multitasking, Dixit felt a sense of relatability in more aspects than one. "There’s a lot of identification and relatability with the role because I am both a daughter and a mother now; the dependability on a mother is huge, and my life is no different when it comes to that."

Welcoming the change of stronger, diverse roles for women in the industry 

Playing a mother of two and a closeted queer person in Maja ma, Madhuri Dixit chose a role that she hasn't ever done before, a role where an actor of her stature has taken a huge, progressive leap that will pave way for more changes. With the evolution of the industry's portrayal of women in an upward, more empowering direction, Dixit feels the evolution of the real world is eventually reflected in cinema. "I think life imitates art and art imitates life. I consider the fact that society's evolution affects how cinema is made today. Look at OTT platforms, where we're seeing a plethora of subjects being explored, and genres being experimented on, and I believe the audience is maturing in a way, too. They're accepting diverse genres on screen because they want certain issues to be tackled with growing perspectives," she speaks.

"The audience wants to be a part of the significant conversation and that reflects in how cinema is being made today. "

Women, says Dixit, are not limited to a certain projection, they're playing central and diverse characters, where they're carrying films and shows on their shoulders, and successfully so. "We're seeing women taking centre stage, especially on OTT platforms. We see them from different walks of life in substantial roles, someone is a glorified mathematician, a sportswoman, a businesswoman and so on. We’re witnessing a new-age woman, which is amazing."


Srishti Shrivastava Srishti Shrivastava

The significance of aligning mental and emotional liberty alongside financial independence

A lot of women, like Dixit's character Pallavi Patel, irrespective of their sexual orientation, are stuck in unhappy marriages. With not all women having the kind of independence required to live a life on their terms, there are certain things Dixit discusses that need to be a priority for every woman in getting agency. "I feel every woman should be financially independent but that alone cannot give them agency. I’ve seen a lot of financially independent women who are stuck in abusive relationships and are treated like nobodies in their families. That needs to change, but that can happen when women are mentally and emotionally independent too." Stressing the fact that the right kind of support is an additional factor that women require if they want to bring about substantial changes in their personal lives, Dixit says it's not an easy way out for a woman because there lie complications which cannot be solved with merely one decision. "A woman who wants to go out on her own and change her course of life will require support, either from family or friends, a support group or an NGO. An independent state of mind is important so is the support that can help the woman move forward. It’s not very painless for someone to say they're walking out," she adds.

"Everyone involved in the project had the same kind of political sameness, in terms of politics of society, where they understood the intent behind the film" - Anand Tiwari

Having acted in several films including Go Goa Gone, Anand Tiwari believes it to be a positive asset that benefits his filmmaking process. "It's a shared understanding that helps me understand the actor's state before the act. I’m able to talk to them in a language that others may not understand because there are so many distractions on a set, unlike theatre where the lights are just on the actor and the audience is sitting in the dark. When we're shooting on the floor or a set, there are so many additional distractions where everyone else is trying to get their parts right, which is equally important, but the actor becomes the fulcrum around whom the story oscillates and as a director, I have to be empathetic to that, being an actor serves me an edge in terms of relatability."

Sheeba Chadha filmography Sheeba Chadha in a still from Maja Ma

The film's cast shared a great camaraderie on set which eventually showed on screen with characters existing in a comfortable space around each other. The ensemble cast including made for a great team on set says, Anand Tiwari. "There's a certain kind of understanding around which every actor comes from, no matter which role they played. There was a certain kind of trust we could share on set." Communicating how his style of filmmaking also involves a fun process, he continues, “I need to have fun while filming regardless of the subject. I can't function in a place where everybody is strained or stressed, I want them to feel at ease while they're performing, and that's exactly what happened with Maja Ma, it was fun, energetic and cheerful," she signs off.

maja ma Madhuri Dixit Maja Ma