By Indu Indira Lala
Cast – Richa Chadha, Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi and Sanjay Mishra
Masaan can be called as the unfinished business of Love and Life. Having bagged acclaims and awards at the Cannes, Masaan is the summation of stories about a low caste boy in hopeless love, a daughter ridden with guilt of a sexual encounter ending in a tragedy, a hapless father with fading morality, and a spirited child yearning for a family, all wanting to escape the moral-twines of small town compulsions.
Rating – *** (* = Poor , ** = Average, *** Good, **** = Excellent, *****= Outstanding)
Masaan (meaning Shamshaan or Crematorium, originally titled ‘Flying Solo’) is a deeply rendered, small-town story of two different couples bonded by the same holy river of Ganges. Set on the traditional, culturally embodied Varanasi, Masaan weaves the threads within the boundaries of Love, Proximity, Togetherness and Eternal separation – all painfully entwined into each other, and portrayed through the pleasures and pain of the lead protagonists, Devi (Richa Chadha) and Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) separately.
A nascent Love story brewing between Devi and Piyush fuels their craving, forcing them to consummate in a dingy, shady hotel. However, tragedy catches upon their lives and this single episode leaves them scarred, and separated. Devi lives on to bear the brunt of this misadventure and faces the emotional and financial payback along with her father Vidhyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra).
Deepak, the male protagonist has his share of cupid, when he gives his heart to the lively, poetic Shaalu (Shweta Tripathi). The vividly chirpy Shaalu returns him his share of Love albeit the Caste disparity between them. As the two get bonded and wow to be together even if rebel is needed, the movie pays tribute to its name and separates the two.
The background of this movie is built upon the ghats of Varanasi, where death comes in all shades and hues as cremation takes place ever minute, where pyres are lighted day in and day out, every square inch filled with dead bodies, neatly bathed and stacked, ready to be lit and to be turned into ashes…….
A very slow-paced, much-detailed story line set in the mediocre settings of Varanasi brings out a real life picture, frame by frame. Having won a prize in the Un Certain Regard category in Cannes, as well as having caught a special attention of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) there, Masaan thus picked up two awards at the recent Cannes Film Festival. In a nutshell, Masaan is the summation of stories about a low caste boy in hopeless love, a daughter ridden with guilt of a sexual encounter ending in a tragedy, a hapless father with fading morality, and a spirited child yearning for a family, all wanting to escape the moral-twines of small town compulsions.
Reminding of the erstwhile era of parallel cinema, devoid of any glamour or commercial cinematics, Masaan scores immensely on its genre and simplicity. However, if someone is expecting a color and glamour of Anurag Basu’s Barfi or Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D, then one may feel disappointed. Yet, Masaan can well be termed as Barfi! Minus the Silver Warak. It lacks the glamour of a Ranbir-Priyanka-Ileana starcast, as well as the glittery, upbeat liveliness of a Barfi character, yet Masaan has its share of raw appeal, virgin directorial strokes by Neeraj Ghaywan and well-woven pain-stricken storyline. Special mention of good work credit to Richa and Shweta.
Music and Lyrics done impressively by Indian Ocean and Varun Grover, respectively, synchronizes perfectly with the storyline and situational settings. Dushyant Kumar’s poetry adds to the movie’s magical lyrics and verses. “Tu Kisi Rail Si Guzarti Hai, Main Kisi Pull-sa Thartharaata Hoon…..and Main Hoon Paani Ke Bulbuley Jaisa, Tujhe Sochoon Toh Phoot Jaata Hoon” feels mushy and heartening ! The magic of Shaalu’s Shaayri tickles the cupidity very impressively.!
Even though we want to tell the world that India is not always about pain, dirt, under-developed cities or a retro country, yet Masaan deserves its share of praise and respect.
Overall, it is a well made movie, much acclaimed credits, and undoubtedly majestic Directorial debut ! Kudos !