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Just when you think a piece of writing couldn’t be any more overrated, the world shows you how fond it is of anything that is remotely sexual. And so, while the books have been a best seller (Yes 50 Shades of Grey, it is) for quite a while now, we’ve had two movies, but it doesn’t stop at that.

Back in India, we don’t shy away from copying anything (ask Pritam da). In fact, we go one step ahead and call it “inspiration”. After all, isn’t imitation the best form of flattery?

Say hello to Maaya, a web series available on Youtube that’s produced and directed by Vikram Bhatt. No, this one isn’t a horror story (although it is quite horrible). The disclaimer at the beginning of the episode announces that it contains “BDSM” (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission and Sadomasochism.) Yes, we were as intrigued as you are.

Fifteen minutes into the first episode, however, we realise it’s been a colossal mistake. The series opens with Shama Sikander playing Sonia Arora, married to a rather darkly handsome young doctor, played by Veer Aryan. Through a series of haphazardly placed flashbacks and a whole lot of chest-heaving, we discover Sonia’s story.

Yep, you guessed it. Our leading lady, who wears cocktail dresses to the hospital (is that how they get people out of coma these days?) is into bondage and submission. In one of the later episodes, a good five minutes are devoted completely to how she manages to tie herself up when hubby dearest is out doing his doctor things. On a scale of one to Sunny Leone, Ms. Sikander scores quite well when it comes to bad acting. Oh, and by the way, she also suffers from retrograde amnesia. *Changes camera angle three times*

Scared that the whole world and even her husband will consider her a freak, Sonia limits her sexual desires to her own hands until one fine day, when she discovers “skin.com”, her gateway to the world of BDSM. (BDSM in this context, however, seems to stand for Badly-Done-Sexual-Manifestations.) It is here that she meets Rahul, our very own Desi Mr. Christian Grey.

Source: India Times

Vikram Bhatt seems to think that the secret to a good story lies in psychopaths- which is why he throws in a few too many. Rahul is married to heiress Diya Khanna,, who, apart from being bipolar, is also weirdly asexual. Rahul is the Dominant to Sonia’s Submissive, and together the two indulge in a whole lot of leather and rope infused shenanigans and of course, chest heaving. All this, again, must be documented and hence, Sonia maintains a blog by the name of her alter ego, Maaya.

Be sufficiently warned, ladies and gentlemen- the series has no qualms about its subject matter and is evidently graphic. (Definitely not safe for work). Mr. Bhatt does seem to have done his homework well. This so because not only are we introduced to bondage and Dom-Sub relationships,we also see references to ‘safe words’. Surprisingly, it doesn’t make the mistake that Fifty Shades does, in trying to paint BDSM in a romantic light. This right here is no heart-and-flowers game. Both the characters enter into a fully consensual relationship, a must in any Dom-Sub equation. Kudos for getting THAT right.

However, that seems to be where the good things end. The dialogues are so bad that they remind you of CID episodes. Explanations for sexual concepts have been copy-pasted from Wikipedia like a thirteen year old’s biology project. So completely is Mr. Bhatt inspired by the Fifty Shades Trilogy that even the dialogues seem to have been simply lifted off. It’s the same blindfold and riding crop salad, served this time in an Indian dressing. The storyline in itself , even after having so many twists, falls short of being barely interesting due to lack of good direction. The actors deliver their dialogues in different variations of the British accent, even though the story is set in Mumbai. Shama Sikandar has a constant deer-caught-between-the-tail-lights vibe about her. Or maybe that is her interpretation of submission.

Also, Vipul Gupta (Rahul) thinks he’s the next James Bond.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the end of this review. Falling somewhere between shoddy film making and almost pornography, Maaya is one series you should watch only if you get paid to. Heaven knows, I was!

Our rating: Are you kidding?


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