The official trailer for Mom was released this weekend, giving much more screen time to Sajal Aly and Adnan Siddiqui than the teaser did. It’s obviously Sridevi’s big ‘300th’ film – and she does look ethereal as she plays the part of a woman struggling with a mystery relationship with her daughter – but Sajal Aly also holds her own and is very impressive as the young Arya. Adnan Siddiqui has some lines. And that’s about it. We don’t know what range the film will allow these two stellar Pakistani actors but what we do know is that the Indian press has completely sidelined the fact that they’re in the film at all.
It does somewhat pinch us that Sajal and Adnan’s names are missing from the video title on YouTube, which credits Sridevi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna as the core cast. It’s also disappointing that the trailer reviews and all of Sridevi’s interviews done at the trailer launch are guided towards working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Akshaye Khanna. Though Sajal plays a titular role as Sridevi’s teenage daughter and Adnan Siddiqui must have some kind of relevance as her husband, there is no mention of them in any review; we went through the Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Times of India and more. But then why expect more? These films were casted when things were good between India and Pakistan and they are being released with the ‘baggage’ not novelty value or advantage of having a Pakistani (or in this case two) on board, so no matter what value they bring to the film, they will be underplayed. It is extremely unfortunate because an artist works for acknowledgment and appreciation and when that is sacrificed at the alter of playing it safe, then the situation does run the risk of being disappointing, to say the least.
But to give the Mom team some benefit of doubt, this could be a preventive measure, ensuring that the film’s release in India is not disrupted by the fact that it features Pakistani actors. We do hope this is the case and that the response and reviews of Mom in India are not as dismissive of our exports as the trailer reviews have been.