Matangi "Maya" Arulpragasam thought she would be a documentary filmmaker. Now, Steve Loveridge, one of her old friends from film school, has made the documentary "Matangi/Maya/M.I.A." about her.
Known to the rest of the world as music superstar M.I.A., young Maya immigrated with her family to England from Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s. The daughter of a Tamil revolutionary, she rooted her Western identity in music and filmmaking before returning to Sri Lanka to revisit her roots, which ultimately inspired her brand of spunky, global hip-hop. She uses her unique perspective to deconstruct the form and the form to interrogate her own identity.
Maya turned over hundreds of hours of personal footage for Loveridge to craft this intimate piece. There are video diaries and interviews with family members in Sri Lanka, and early demos and concert appearances alongside cozy scenes with ex-boyfriend Diplo. But there are also blockbuster behind-the-scenes moments, including an intimidating visit from NFL officials after she made an obscene gesture at the camera during Madonna's Super Bowl halftime show.
The film ultimately situates M.I.A. as an individual processing the full weight of huge global forces — war, immigration, racism, capitalism, sexism — through her work and through her existence. It inspires deep respect for the fierce and independent artist she is.