What is the story about?
Aruna, a mother of two, is sad about the departure of her son Miki for foreign shores. Miki's childhood friend, Rishi, comes to stay in her house as a tenant. The reclusive Rishi strikes up a friendship with Aruna, who dotes on him. Unknown to Aruna, Rishi is tormented by the death of his mother Maya, and her oppression at the hands of his abusive father. Little by little, Rishi's desire for the perfect mother turns his bond with Aruna into a dangerous obsession.
Mohomaya opens with a rather disturbing sequence that could be termed as "exploitation porn". In fact, your reaction to those first two minutes will actually decide whether you enjoy the show or not. Dark psychological thrillers are extremely rare in the Bengali OTT space, though Hoichoi has actually turned Bonyo Premer Golpo into a successful franchise. Yet, if BPG was a rather watered-down version of the David Fincher school of psychologiclal thrillers, Mohomaya goes into extremely dark and uncomfortable territory. Creator Sahana Dutta, together with co-writer Aditi Majumder, craft a gripping screenplay that dares to delve into deviant sexual practices and how abusive marriages can foster lingering psychological damage in survivors and their offspring. Director Kamaleswar Mukherjee directs the first two episodes with the finesse of a pro, revealing Rishi's fractured state of mind, and interspersing it with Aruna's need for mothering. Some of the sequences involving Rishi are uncomfortable to watch, but this is a deliberate decision on the part of the makers to make the audience perpetually anxious. The show ends, or rather pauses, at a very intriguing point in the story, with more to follow. Overall, this is a well-made psychological thriller, but I suspect the reactions to this will be polarizing.
The performances are the soul of Mohomaya. Swastika Mukherjee goes against type to play the careworn, paan-chewing, emotionally volatile Aruna with elan. Like Tasher Ghawr, she ends up extracting terrific notes from even trivial moments in domestic life. Ananya Chatterjee astutely plays Maya as two distinct characters: as the perpetually abused housewife who slowly goes mad in Rishi's past, and as a Shakespearean figment of her son's imagination where she becomes his tormentor and confidant. Debutant Bipul Patra shines as Rishi, using his still eyes to convey innocence and malevolence, often in the same scene. Sujan Mukherjee is alright as Aruna's husband, who suspects something might be amiss with his new tenant. The rest of the cast is okay.
Music & Other Departments
Tuban's cinematography, awash with reds, lends flair to the twisted narrative. Rabiranjan Maitra does double duty here as editor and sound designer, and he does a lot of heavy lifting here. Sandeep Neogy's makeup and prosthetics are decent.
The first couple of episodes, establishing the madness in Rishi's life and the bustle of Aruna's household, are expertly shot and enacted.
This show is not meant for everyone. There are a few scenes which could be potentially upsetting to certain viewers, and often veer towards exploitation porn.
Did I enjoy it?
I was fascinated by the proceedings.
Do I recommend it?
If dark psychological thrillers are what you crave for, you can check this show out.