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When you are going in to watch a film which is outside the hellish realm of mainstream cinema, you expect to be treated with a compelling story. You prepare yourself to watch something different and then you get a rude jolt when Listen Amaya starts off with a song. Yes, a ridiculous song. But it's all good. Must not be hasty. This could still take a better route. Soon, we are introduced to the characters.
There's Amaya, the protagonist, played by Swara Bhaskar. That lovely presence in films like Tanu Weds Manu (2011), Guzaarish (2010) and Chillar Party (2011), she finally gets her own movie. Then there is her mother, Leela (Deepti Naval) who runs a coffee house. Jayant (Farooque Shaikh), fondly called Jazz, is a staple customer. They all get along. Sounds like a cozy setting. Memories of Shaikh-Naval romance from Chashme Baddoor (1981) and Kissi Se Na Kehna (1983) brush past you.
Alas, the jolt of clich\xe9 I got at the start soon becomes a regular visitor. We are spoon-fed information like Amaya is a free spirit, she is impulsive etc. We are told that Leela lost her husband, (which obviously means Amaya lost her father) and that Jazz lost his wife and daughter. Every character is conveniently assigned character traits and back-stories which spell nothing more than a big fat clich\xe9. Hell, there's another character who crushes on Amaya and has, you guessed it... a father who re-married after his mother died. Or something like that. Basically, he has a background, which can be conveniently used when the script runs out of steam and a sub-plot needs justification.
The plot of the film centers around Amaya not accepting her mother's relationship with Jazz. Wait, a second. We just saw a 10 minutes sequence of them spending a breezy day together at the busy bazaar. It all seemed fine. Suddenly, we are told she is strictly against her mother defining her relationship with him? Yes, the free spirit is not so free after all. This sounds like a good drama. Sadly, the film is anything but.
The conversations between the characters are hardly insightful and meaningful. The characters itself are made out of cardboard (of bad quality). Why must we watch that for 2 hours, I ask? There is boredom written all over this film. There are various obvious metaphors of time and memory which are beaten into our heads with a bat. There is some offbeat storytelling techniques used as well. A conversation with off-screen dialogues showing only the characters looking at one another. Another conversation jump cutting through various time periods. A montage of Leela sleeping. (I was kidding about the last one, yes it is in the film, but it's amazingly pointless)
These techniques are probably employed to give more â€œdepthâ€ to the film. Jazz's memory also seems to be fading. (Spoiler alert) He has Alzheimer's disease. The way Alzheimer's is treated in this film is so filmy and banal; it makes Black (2005) look more effective. (End of spoiler)
There can be an interesting story about a spoilt brat who is unable to deal with her maternal issues but it probably is better suited as a sub-plot. If it's given an entire film, it must offer something more than good casting. The actors perform their duties well; it is only the script that lets them down. This would have definitely worked as an episode of a TV show (it would still need better writing). As a film, it fails.