Director: Kamaleshwar Mukherjee
Cast: Swastika Mukherjee, Ananya Chatterjee, Bipul Patra, Neel Mukherjee
Mohomaya, the excruciating new web series on Bangla streaming platform Hoichoi, delivers something other than what’s promised in the trailer, which would lead you to believe that it’s a story about the sexual tension between Swastika Mukherjee’s middle-aged mother of three and their new youngish, babyfaced paying guest (Bipul Patra). What else, pray, should you expect but some kind of an acceptably streamable version of MILF porn when a trailer, strategically, inserts a scene where Mukherjee and the boy collide, resulting in them both breaking into awkward blushes? It’s a tragedy that the actual series (created by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee) ends up quite somewhere else entirely—a social issue thriller about a psychotic weirdo looking for motherly love, and a housewife looking to fill the void created by her own two sons—but one that never quite lets go of its sexual suggestiveness either. The result is a three and a half hour, five episode slugfest that can’t decide whether it wants to titillate or preach: the sexual tension between the two might kill you.
It certainly does kill Mukherjee’s cat whose crime is simply that it comes in her way in the corridor of their house, that elicits a jokingly affectionate, figuratively intended, reaction in her—it would translate to something like ‘If you keep coming at my feet, one day I will trip and fall and die’. But our psycho killer and could-have-been-fuckboi doesn’t even get it, let alone have a sense of humour (because he is… psychotic). He will eliminate anyone who poses even the slightest threat to Mukherjee, in who he sees a real-life substitute to his own dead mother (Ananya Chatterjee), with who he keeps conversing in his head, like some kind of an insufferable, pretentious version of Vikram-Betaal.
His second victim is Mukherjee’s daughter, who desperately tries to hit on him, and at one point, accuses her own mother of sabotaging her chances with him (and for good reason: she spends an abnormally long time having tea with him in his room; he is shown feeling her presence from outside the bathroom as she bathes). Mukherjee accuses her back for her slutty behaviour with the boy. Wherever he has been rested, Freud turns in his grave.
The Freudian undercurrent is furthered by the fact that the paying guest is her son’s old mate from school. In his childhood, he was routinely traumatised by disturbing visuals of his monster father torturing his mother in a hellish room, where he would perform violent BDSM on other women in gas masks while shouting such gems as ‘An animal needs an animal wife’, urging his wife to be his sex-slave. This could do potentially two things to the child: turn in him a saviour complex for the mother figure, and, plant in him seeds of his father’s fetishistic tendencies. All jokes aside, this could have been fertile ground for a riveting character study (or a two character study); instead, we have an actor walking around with a creepy smile with all the charm of a Lokhandwala model, in a show that might have been more fun if actually followed the raciness suggested in the trailer and had gone all the way.