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For 12year old Maya,life is very simple in her village in rural India. From innocent pranks to small adventures in the nearby forest, she spends most of her time with her 11 year old cousin, Sanjay. However, their fraternal love is soon shattered when Maya’s journey to be coming a woman results in her being the victim of anancient and brutal ritual, tragically ending her childhood innocence and leaving her scarred for life. Visually stunning and emotionally stirring, Maya reveals the devastating consequences of a traumatic ritual, though forbidden, that still occurs in parts of India today. **Please note that the film contains graphic sexual situations.**
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The quietly devastating Maya begins with the statement, "Based on true practices." Not until the very end will those practices, which still take place in certain remote parts of India, be revealed. Until that time, Digvijay Singh's deceptively bucolic debut takes a quasi-documentary approach to the rural summer of 12-year-old Maya (wide-eyed Nitya Shetty) as she and cousin Sanjay (Nikhil Yadav) play in the sun, sneak candy, and drink warm milk. But then Maya "becomes a woman" and her family starts making preparations for her "prayer ceremony." Things seems normal enough, although Maya is never told what this ceremony entails and why it is so important. Although the disturbing centerpiece of her initiation into adulthood is more suggested than shown, the point is as clear as it is heartbreaking. It represents, quite simply, the brutal and irrevocable destruction of one girl's innocence. For this reason, the film is recommended for adult viewers, despite the young age of its central character. Maya is a complex and shattering film. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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