Supposedly, “Aama” is the story of three mothers, four if you include the grandmother. Mithila Sharma plays the mother of Arati Kafle (Surakshya Panta), who herself is trying to be a mother, albeit without any success. The movie starts as Arati’s father is hospitalized due to a tragic accident. She has a brother who can’t come here immediately as he is in the US. Arati now has to take care of her hospitalized father and involve her husband in the process as well. They spend all the money in saving him which includes the money they had kept for Arati’s in vitro fertilization.
Sarita Giri plays mother of a newborn, whose migrant worker of a husband can’t come here to care for her as his employer wouldn’t allow him. And there is a grandmother (Laxmi Bhushal) who is living with her grandson (Manish Niraula)upon her son’s request, who himself is abroad at the moment. Sudden accident of Arati’s father becomes the reason behind these mothers’ chance meeting with each other. They share and care for and at times, fight with each other.
However, allow me to start by saying that this is not a story of mothers. Yes, they are the important characters but the movie is a family drama, where a tragic accident and its consequences take the central stage. The mother (Mithila’s character) is a hapless woman who is neither brave, nor caring. Yes, she is not, as she is ready to literally order her daughter to give blood to someone who the mother met just days ago. Even medically informed viewers can understand that there’s nothing wrong in donating blood but they would have hard time believing an illiterate, simpleton of a mother could ask of that from her own daughter if she really loved her.
The movie is in fact about the daughter who fights for her father and sacrifices everything including her family in the process. The movie is also about the absentee men who aren’t there in dire times. And it is mostly about the snafu situation health sector of Nepal is going through.
“Aama” succeeds in depicting the sad reality of an average middle-class Nepali household when someone in the family suddenly needs to be hospitalized. The consequential stress, financial liability and its impact on everyday life is perhaps second to, not even death. Death is easy, evidently in the movie as well, as viewers at the end feel themselves relieved off the suffering Arati was going through. Most Nepali viewers can relate to the behavior of hospital administration, as heard/read in the news. Such is the situation of Nepali health sector that if we don’t have a good insurance policy in place or a chunk of land to sell somewhere, we are very likely to have an untimely death due to terminal disease, or say, an accident.
Not only death, we can’t even have a proper funeral if we don’t have money. Makers succeed in touching viewer’s heart by showcasing the morose condition a not-so-well-off Nepali goes through during a medical emergency. Add to that factor the behavior of institutions and absence of our own people when we desperately need them.
The ending is satisfactory. In contrast, why so many clichéd dialogues? And at times, lines uttered from seemingly uneducated characters as if they are philosophers doesn’t go well with the audience. The cinematography and color correction has helped in prevailing the required gloomy outlook.
Manish Niraula as Arati’s husband is passable. Tika Pahadi’s seemingly animated voice aids in his characterization but he is not helped by his facial expression and demeanor. Mithila Sharma is stagey. It is SurakshyaPanta who takes the prize for being the most believable one. One can tell that humor has no place in this sad tale of tragedy but writers could do away with some dark comedy. I am writing this because there is severe lack of events for the drama to progress in the first half. Might I add, that Surakshya shaving her head and Sarita squeezing her breast adds very little to the movie? More so for the latter.
The movie is not for someone who seeks a lighthearted entertainment in the theater. The movie doesn’t break any ground or directs towards any resolution to the alarming situation of our health sector. However, if you are in a different emotional mood, you won’t be disappointed. However, don’t jump in by looking merely at the title.