'Masaan' finds its place in Benaras- both the literal and figurative. Benaras is a shelter to many people who come to creamate the remains of their dead dear ones. It is said that one who dies in Benaras finds salvation.
And the families of Dom Raja help people finding the salvation. One of the minor characters in the film says, "There are only two kings in Kashi. The Kashi King and the Dom Raja." He was true. Dom Raja is truly the king of Benaras's crematoriums, assisting people in burning the bodies by the flowing water current.
And Deepak is the son of Dom Raja. He chooses to pursue education rather than continue himself in the family profession, much to the dislike of his elder brother. He also loves Shaalu, the friend of a friend's crush. Shaalu, a 10+2 student, loves him too. There's is airy romance. They don't sing and dance, they exchange everyday conversations on their phones on the terrace, they smile at each other's gaze by a boat in the Ganga river.
By these banks also lives Vidhyadhar Pathak, a Hindu priest, an ex-professor of Sanskrit studies in BHU. His daughter Devi is a vocational IT teacher in a cyber center. She chooses to indulge in sexual relations with one of the students Piyush. Police hears. Smashes and thrashes. Piyush commits suicide on the spot, and due to this, the simple life of the educated father and daughter are torn asunder.
'Masaan' tells these two stories, the rhythmic flow of waters coinciding with deaths and emotions. If happiness doesn't seem coming, the sorrow doesn't want to stop. Everything is permanent, but sometimes, you just can't detach. With relatable scenes, the film captures the figure of the illusive lives- of Deepak, of Devi, of Shaalu, of Vidhyadhar.
And these performances truly ring to the audience's heart: Richa Chaddha mesmerizes as Devi, and so does Sanjay Mishra, as Vidhyadhar. Shwta Tripathi is a crisp find as Shaalu. But it is Vicky Kaushal who truly steals the scene as Deepak. He is a true debut, with amazing consistency and depth. He has exactly the same emotions as the film wants him to have.
Neeraj Ghaywan has a young heart which keenly observes metaphors. Even if Varun Grover's deep writing lacks somewhere, he completes it with his own ideas. He gives the true blue love stories- loss in love, or meeting together in the Durga Puja fair.
But the film does come with its downs. The film is satisfying, but Avinash Arun, the cinematographer, captures just the scenes of Benaras and the dazzles don't move you.
Let me report, the film does move you. It shakes you. It makes you weep over the loss. But it, absurdly, makes you smile over the grief. 'Masaan' is the original we want. I'm going with four stars for 'Masaan'. Please watch it.
I Love The Vicky Shweta Part More Than The Richa One.While Richa One Gets Lame At Times, And Even At Start, Vicky Shweta Hits The Chord And Make The Movie Beautiful + Heart Breaking.Neeraj Directed It Very Wisely.It Could Hv Been Better Though
Now we know how long it took for Bollywood to come up with 2015's first best film: 7 months.
One should be prepared to give multiple chills to their spine as he/she goes on about watching and completing this compelling drama consisting of two parallel stories talking about life, love, and death. A young careless daughter (Chadda) of an aging professor (Mishra) from the highly conservative city of Varanasi finds herself committing a mistake while bridging the gap between love and lust, after having fallen for one of her coaching class students, which pushes the father-daughter duo into a horrible mess involving a corrupt policeman and his greedy, two-holed belly. The first five minutes of this story is enough to entice a normal person, and if you are a film fanatic, you'll throw away the popcorn for you want to concentrate.
The second tale, about adolescent love, is as charming as its two main characters. The most valid setting for an interior village in the holy city is perhaps what best describes one of the protagonists here: an Engineering student (Kaushal) who is the hope of a family whose generation-old work background has everything to do with the celebrated, open crematorium (translating to masaan in Hindi) that happens in the banks of the Ganges river in Varanasi. His transition from a sincere student into a bereaving mass of wreck is triggered when a girl (Tripathi) innocently enters his life. They fall in love, and watching this love unfold is a real treat. Sweet pleasure treat.
And if one feels unfinished with these stories, then there is great doses of poignancy to it. It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch the fate of these characters as they embrace dynamic equilibrium in their hopeless lives, just to move forward. The stories as a single entity reek of realism to the fact that such things still happen in this modern world where on one side of the globe people are talking about shifting to Moon or Mars. The whole idea is haunting and let us not go down the anachronism road, not that it is prevalent in the film.
Cast performance is brilliant. The way they act out the well-written characters shows how the makers have paid attention to details and have done good homework about the theme. Mishra, as original as ever in his typecast character, rules the frame whenever he appears. The newcomers also add panache (wrong word, I know) to the screen, especially Tripathi. Music and lyrics are supportive, too.
BOTTOM LINE: With a fantastic conclusion, Masaan is a heart- wrenching tale of people trapped in a conundrum we all call life.
VERDICT: 8 stars out of 10. Highly recommended!
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES
Masaan, a film by debutant director Neeraj Ghaywan, is a very different film which Indian Cinema has not seen in the recent past. Masaan is going to touch your hearts. It has already won two awards at 68th Cannes International Film Festival this year: International Federation of Film Critics award (FIPRESCI) and Prix de I’Avenir ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ award for Neeraj in the Un Certain Regard section. Masaan’s screening at Cannes fetched the whole team 5 minute long standing ovation. Neeraj has assisted Anurag Kashyap for Gangs of Wasseypur. When Varun Grover joined hands with Neeraj to write this film, the result which has come out as Masaan is a must watch. Indian Ocean Band’s music is a delight to ears. Masaan was also showcased as the opening movie in Jagran Film Festival (1-5th July, 2015) at Delhi. I was one of the lucky one to catch this show, and I was touched, moved with the movie. Jam packed audience at Jagran Film Festival also gave the Masaan Team standing ovation.
Masaan has got raving reviews from all across the corner after its release. I feel very incompetent to review this movie, since many details are to be seen and felt, very difficult to express through writing.
Masaan is a story of life, death, innocent love, natural progression to explore love as adults, the need to be part of a family, conservative yet adopting a modern outlook towards life, complex mix of modernity with tradition, rebelling against the moral constructs of the society, corruption by a police officer etc. Masaan is definitely going to have a lingering impact on you, make you accept death as an inevitable part of life, value life more, handle the loss of life, grow beyond grief, face the turbulence of life and the necessity to move on in life irrespective of situations. Oh yes, there are moments of innocent love which is going to bring lot of smile on your face. The film does not try to convey what is right and what is wrong, it does not take any stand as such. It just projects certain realities of life. Certain scenes are so intricately handled, minute details are covered, and these generate so many emotions within us.
The word Masaan means cremation grounds (Ghat), where dead bodies are cremated. The movie is set up in the backdrop of Banaras Ghat. Different stories are conveyed, intertwined with one another. Initial credits in the screen are followed by a message which meant that life is an arrangement of five elements whereas death is actually disarray of the very same five elements. It sets out the tone of the whole movie.
The film begins with Devi Pathak (Richa Chadha) watching a porn film and later going to meet her boyfriend Piyush Agarwal who used to come to her coaching institute where she was working as a receptionist. Both of them are caught red-handed by police officials in a hotel during their first sexual encounter. Inspector Mishra (Bhagwan Tiwari) does not waste a minute in shooting Devi’s video. Meanwhile, Piyush attempts to commit suicide in the restroom. Life takes a humiliating turn for Devi.
Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra, Devi’s father), once a professor, now sits in one of the ghat as a Pandit to conduct rituals and sell Puja materials, and also translates some work to earn a living. He reaches police station to bail Devi out. Oh, it is such a strong emotional moment, when Devi and Vidyadhar are sitting in two chairs adjacent to each other in front of Inspector Mishra. One can relate with both the characters. Vidyadhar is a person, for whom, respect in the society matters a lot. Vidyadhar and Devi’s humiliation reflect so much through their body language. Even after their coming back home, without uttering a word, Vidyadhar expresses to Devi his grief, pain, disbelief, humiliation. Inspector Mishra later emotionally blackmails Vidyadhar when Piyush dies and demands money from him.
And then there is story of Deepak Chaudhary (debutant Vicky Kaushal), who is from Dom community, lives in Harishchandra Ghat along with his parents, brother and sister-in-law. He is also pursuing his final year engineering from a polytechnic college. Masaan shows the lives of people of his community dealing with deaths every moment and earning their livelihood out of deaths. There is a dialogue in the movie which says: There are only two kings in Banaras – one is Kashi King and another one is Dom king; and how true this is. The dom community is in ghat with the funeral pyre most of the time. They even use this holy pyre to light their stove at home to cook food.
Deepak falls in love with Shaalu Gupta (debutant Shweta Tripathi), an upper caste girl, who is so much a lover of poetry and well-versed with the works of Mirza Ghalib, Bashir Badr, Nida Fazli, Akbar Allahabadi etc. The way love blossoms between Deepak and Shaalu does bring lot of smile. It is interesting to see, how Deepak chooses facebook to connect with Shaalu. Music by Indian Ocean band, and lyrics by Varun Grover (inspired from the poet Dushyant Kumar’s ghazal) : “Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai, main kisi pull sa thartharata hum…” add so much meaning to Deepak and Shaalu’s love.
A strong bond is shown between Vidyadhar Pathak and adorable orphan kid Jhonta (Nikhil Sahni), who assists him in his shop at ghat. Jhonta loves to dive deep into Ganga but does not get permission from Vidyadhar.
Another character Sadhya ji (Pankaj Tripathi), is a clerk in the railway reservation center. How his character is introduced and his role adds to the film’s plot, watch the film to know.
How does the story of Masaan move further? Does Devi’s character succumb to guilt and humiliation? How does she address her own guilt? Does she outgrow it to take charge of her life? How the relationship between Devi and her father Vidyadhar shape up after the unfortunate incident? How do they arrange money for Inspector Mishra? What happens to Deepak and Shaalu’s love story? What actually happens when one person who sees deaths every moment but has to face the death of his most beloved one? How to overcome the grief and feeling of loss? Does the holy river Ganges able to fill the gap between caste, genders created by human beings in the society? Although, the climax, rather the whole plot, might raise certain questions in your heart i.e. what if the things which happened never happened at all or had taken a different turn?
Certain moments which are definitely going to give you goosebumps: Understated emotions between Devi and Vidyadhar; Deepak trying to cry his heart out and say: ye dukh sala khatam hi nahi hota; Vidyadhar’s realization of how he became a self-centered person to fulfill his own motives, Jhonta’s love towards Vidyadhar and determination to help him; Skullcrushing scenes in the ghat; Deepak’s father wanting Deepak to move out of house / ghat life by fetching a job; Vidyadhar packing food for Devi etc.
What a fabulous acting by Sanjay Mishra as Vidyadhar Pathak. He brings so much life to all those understated or unstated emotions. Richa Chadha has again proved herself, such a restrained performance. She brings out Devi’s guilt, rebelliousness, and desire to grow in life so well through her performance. The little kid Nikhil Sahni is simply adorable. Pankaj Tripathi is also very good. A special mention for debutants Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi, how innocently, naturally and beautifully they have loved each other in the film. Vicky and Shweta would make us want to fall in love again. Vicky has played his role & delivered the dialogue so convincingly. He expresses happiness as well as grief of Deepak so well. Shweta with her beautiful smile and poetry sprouting role as Shaalu has added lot of freshness to the film. Both Vicky and Shweta are awesome. Rest of the actors have also done justice to their characters.
Indian Ocean’s music, Varun’s lyrics and Avinash Arun’s cinematography adds lots of magic to the film.
Masaan, a must-watch film, showcases the journey of transformation, journey from the Ganges to Sangam; talks about the very essence of life.