Masaan making waves in India



Richa Chaddha in Masaan, a powerful performance

Film:  Masaan
Cast:  Richa Chaddha, Sanjay Mishra, Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi
Director:  Neeraj Ghaywan
Rating:  4/5

Set against the visually powerful backdrop of funeral pyres and the burning ghats in Varanasi, Masaan is a poetic narrative of pathos and love. The film takes on the tragedy of life, death and loss. It traces two different stories – one about Devi’s (Richa Chaddha) fight with morality and the other one is the love story of Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) and Shalu (Shweta Tripathi).

Corpses are burning on a ghat in Varanasi and the men attending the pyres take lathis and hit on the skulls of the burning corpses while asking each other to ensure that the bodies burn properly. We get to see this twice in Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan that hits theatres on Friday. The film, which was honoured with a five-minute standing ovation and won two awards at the Cannes Film Festival, stars Richa Chadda, Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi and Sanjay Mishra in lead roles.

Chaddha is seen watching porn on her computer as Masaan    opens. She then leaves her house, changes into a saree in a Sulabh shauchalaya — the public toilet — on her way and rents a cheap hotel room with her friend Piyush (Saurabh Chaudhary). The duo is interrupted by cops who barge into the room and the sequence lands Devi and her father Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra) as the targets of a blackmailing cop.

A parallel love story between Shalu and Deepak offers romantic relief to the otherwise tense story of Devi. Deepak belongs to a family of doms — people who help burn corpses on the ghats — while Shalu is an upper caste girl, protected from the harsh realities of life that Deepak encounters everyday.

One of the many beautiful aspects of Masaan    is that none of the characters give up. They are caught up in the social and moral confines but are ready to take them on within their own litte spheres and ways. Devi, despite her small-town upbringing, struggles with the social morales, weaves vulnerability, rebelliousness and strength together. Both Devi and Deepak have their personal losses and tragedies to deal with but they put up a strong fight, bring closure to their griefs and move ahead in life.

Varun Grover has written a tight screenplay that leaves no space for loopholes or stretched moments throughout the 109-minutes of the movie. His dialogues touch an emotional chord and bring out small-town world where the story is set.

Controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who didn’t have ‘high hopes about Hindi movies’, was left ‘speechless’ after watching Masaan.

The film, which marks Neeraj Ghaywan’s debut as a director.

The film has won two awards at the 68th Cannes International Film Festival. It bagged the Promising Future Prize and the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) Award at the prestigious fest.

Produced jointly by Drishyam Films, Phantom Films, Macassar Productions and Sikhya Entertainment,  Masaan  is highly recommended and a must view for all.

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