I have been meaning to review Masaan for so long. It had always lurked in the corner of my brain as a profoundly helmed beauty that calls for unparalleled attention. So I am writing this, to celebrate it so that those who haven’t watched it already, should, and those who have, read it to experience its sagacity all over again.
Masaan beats Indian mainstream conventions hands down. A powerful flick that carves itself like a beautiful poem that elicits unmatched elation, a shattering pang and an aftermath that will steer your thoughts towards a rare contentment. The Varun Grover tale is reflective of all that he wears on his sleeves: a rare poetic depression, abstract lost love, and a constant struggle to be understood.
DIRECTION OF MASAAN
I was blown away by Masaan’s direction. So beautifully shot, and edited that it left me wonder-struck. Right at the juncture it takes off, the movie edits itself in a gorgeous fashion to show us only the important bits, allowing us to adjust us to its stunning pace. With no diegesis to support the frames, (a wise decision) spectators are left guessing for imminent frames. Something that settles in quite quickly. It is after the first few events of each tale that the story begins to unfurl in a beautiful flower thus giving us a better insight.
Neeraj Ghaywan has become one of my favourite directors all of a sudden. His intensity on frames feels instinctive that makes his direction absolutely stunning. It is important for a director to understand how he feels for his work, to place his feelings out there in the open for the world to see. Frames of Neeraj induce that successfully.
POWERFUL STORIES (SPOILERS INSCRIBED)
We have two primal parallel stories running for plot. The way they meet at a juncture lets us marvel at the concept of destiny.
The first one is beautifully taken up superbly by actress Richa Chadha who embodies Devi Pathak making her one of her own. She gets decimated by lowlife societal thinking; her fate constantly followed up by a corrupt policeman. It is hard not to feel sorry for her. Her laconic conversations will have you listen to her thoughts. She talks with her acting most of the times, and you could literally see her blood curdling inside her heart with every profane remark she finds.
Struggling for reconciliation for her mishap, which she tries to set right by visiting the family of the guy whom she loved, Devi Pathak finds herself at the ugly side of abomination. It is like a colossal rejection she ends up facing by life itself. For her character, Richa Chadda retains a constant depression in her eyes which I don’t think any other actress could have done justice to.
THE SECOND STORY
The second story is spearheaded by Vicky Kaushal who plays Deepak Chaudhary brilliantly. In a backdrop of constant funerals, he is leading a life, rather trying to escape the detrimental. He is searching for rays of hope to escape the smothering ashes of pyres for good. The constant deleterious fire is setting ablaze his dreams and he can’t seem to get out. Until one day he falls in love.
Shweta Tripathi’s Shaalu Gupta is magnificently built out of thin air. You don’t really see their love story coming, and then out of the blue it arrives. So stupendous! Also it is so marvelously played that you will fall in love with both of them instantly.
Whilst Deepak is aware that he is going nowhere, that love is for those who have a future, as he beholds those manacles of casteism, prejudice and stratum dangling ahead, he decides to end it all. But then realizes it’s difficult to live without Shaalu and so he becomes more focused to get out of his conventional misery that constantly eats him from the inside.
Then that tragedy befalls that uproots his world, aftermath which nothing matters. The point he was living for disappears into nothingness. The ill-fated Deepak Chaudhary slithers into a gut-wrenching depression. Watching him like that will bring tears to your eyes. Watch out for that bit when he breaks down near the bank of Ganges.
Sanjay Mishra runs a parallel sub-plot as well with a predictable plot but his unique acting style uplifts it nevertheless. He plays Vidyadhar Pathak, father of Devi Pathak. His ill-fated abyss wherein a corrupt Police Inspector Mishra keeps gnawing at him constantly and mercilessly will melt your heart with empathy.
LEAVING THREADS OPEN
Masaan doesn’t try to delve into poetic justice of the corrupt. India stays the land of corrupt in the eyes of Neeraj Ghaywan. That is one of the best decisions that Neeraj abides by. It is important to bring the injustice out in the open and not circle it to fruition by adjudication. If Neeraj had chosen to show the Inspector Mishra getting caught, it would have made us complacent. A feeling of insouciance towards corruption would have crept up on us unknowingly and we would have accepted the way of things, thinking – “Okay! So it all got sorted out in the end. But manifesting him getting away with it was intentional just to boil the viewers up.
So he makes sure. How the ignorant gets fooled by the bribing eyes of those in power. The abuse and misuse of power will have you brooding how despotism still lurks in a place that should be completely absolved of it. The land of God is run by vultures, who can do anything to fill their pockets. There is so much exploitation still prevalent in India that you will incessantly feel bad for the uneducated.
The sad thing is that we are living amidst it all. The corruption, that has diffused in our holy waters in profusion. We are drinking it everyday, accepting it and thriving with it. That is the saddest part of it all.
SCREENPLAY AND LYRICS
Screenplay goes above average at times. Songs like these:
“Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai, main kisi Pull sa thartharata hoon”
Help in driving Masaan’s nail deeper. Its true metaphor lies in the embodiment of the inanimate. Image yourself as a quaking bridge, as that reckless train (her) passes over you, leaving you tottering craving for her affection. Then there is another beautiful line that is on the lines of:
“I am like a bubble, when I think about you I burst.”
There are two other great songs imbibed in the frames of Masaan. ‘Bhor’ has been aptly placed to complement its love theme. Both Shaalu and Deepak do it justice. ‘Mann Kasturi’ ambles on its impactful lyrics as well.
THE FUTURE OF INDIAN CINEMA
Masaan is like rising from the ashes. Building yourself from scratch because nobody bats an eye when you fall, or understands you in a way you do yourself.
The movie silently brings home a whiff of change. We are at the center of it, and I can feel it. Now all we have to do is encourage movies like Masaan, give our riveting attention and love, and we might see the Indian Cinema metamorphose itself into a enclave.
Check out the trailer of Masaan movie here: