The Story Frame:
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Masaan is the story of four lovers and their challenges they face in materializing their love in the so called conservative society. The modern days's gadgets and technology plays a vital role in expressing their love but it fails to help them sail through the challenges posed by the very society who created these technologies and new conveniences to bond with each other. Masaan has already earned its accolades in Cannes by winning awards and is on the journey to earn more on its own land India. It has already wooed Bollywood and its veterans by its sheer beautiful portrayal. It has a fabulous and talented star cast and new comers who has given power packed performances. It has raised the bar of cinema one notch higher.
Cast: Richa Chadda (Devi), Vicky Kaushal (Deepak), Sanjay Mishra (Vidyadhar Pathak), Nikhil Sahni, Shweta Tripathi (Shalu), Pankaj Tripathi, Bhagwan Tiwari, Bhupesh Singh, Satyakam Anand
Genre: Romance & Drama
Direction: Neeraj Ghaywan
Produced by: Vikas Bahl, Melita Toscan du Plantier, Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Vikramaditya Motwane, Manish Mundra, Marie-Jeanne Pascal, Shaan Vyas
Production Company: Drishyam Films, Macassar Productions, Phantom Films, Sikhya Entertainment
Written by: Neeraj Ghaywan & Varun Grover
Cinematographer: Avinash Arun Dhaware
Production Designer: Ranjit Singh
Costume Designer: Shruti Kapoor
Music: Indian Ocean
Lyrics: Varun Grover
Film Editing by: Nitin Baid
Theatre Release: 24th July, 2015 (Screened at Cannes 19th May 2015)
Duration: 109 minutes
Reviewer's Thumb Mark
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Masaan (crematorium) - Life... Death... everything in between is what Neeraj Ghaywan depicts through the film Masaan. From the blazing pyre to the heavenly abode when the soul free itself from the shackles of human vices of caste discrimination, religious customs, good & bad, rights and wrongs ... maybe it might be hoping to come back to see a world sans all these complexities it has experienced. Masaan is a story of two tragic love stories that runs parallel entwining four characters Devi & Piyush, and Shalu & Deepak.
The film begins with Devi watching a porn clip on her computer and later being caught in a hotel raid red hand with her boyfriend in her quest to quench her curiosity. The raid's after effects haunts Devi and her father, Vidhyadhar Pathak, as a nightmare because of a local police officer who tries to extort money from them to not to drag them into legal complications.
Richa Chadda as Devi has given a compelling performance in a deglamourized role. She brings in a kind of originality in the depiction of the character by her body language and dialogue, which shows her tremendous caliber as an actress. Richa Chadda's Masaan shall definitely be remembered and referred as one of her milestones in her acting career. Devi is unapologetic, rebellious, freedom loving, calm and shows immense resilience and courage to sail through the storm in her life to make her mark in this conservative and moralistic society. Devi symbolizes all girls across the country who struggles for freedom and for their silent but bold fight against the so called watchdogs of the society and religion.
Sanjay Misra, as Vidhyadhar Pathak touches your heart by playing the role of a helpless father who succumbs to the exploitation of a shrewd police officer. His vulnerability and susceptibility as a protective and loving father is so well portrayed that the audience is full of awe for this remarkable actor. A man who once was a Sanskrit professor lives with his daughter and makes a living in his old age as a pundit selling materials for religious rituals and engaging himself as a translator of books for some local publishers. His bonding with his protege 'Jonta' (Nikhil Sahni) a small boy on the ghats who helps him to bring customers to his shop is fabulous. Vidhyadhar and Jonta has some beautiful laughable moments as well as scenes where you watch them with moist eyes. I would restrain myself to reveal those moments for you to watch on screen.
Sanjay Misra is on a high and draws a large number of fan following. I remember meeting him at Delhi in the 6th Jagran Film Festival during the screening of Masaan, where while answering to a query on what is the secret of his power packed performances?, he said that he is 'alive' (Main Zinda Hun) and that makes him perform. After seeing Masaan, I feel it is so true what he said, he can bring life to any character he portrays to the extent that the character stays with you even after the movie ends. Vidhyadhar Pathak is one such character. Sanjay Misra is on the path of being revered and adored as one of the finest actors the world cinema is experiencing.
Vicky Kaushal as Deepak in the second story wins your heart by his charm. He is the new find of Bollywood who is going to make many hearts beat for him. His debut promises that he is an actor who is here to stay for long. Deepak's innocence and at the same time his identity as a lower caste Dom boy make you smile, laugh and cry with him. There are certain moments of innocence depicted so effortlessly by Vicky like : when he tells his lady love, Shaalu, " Abh tho hum friend hi na" and when he says " Abh yeh Nida Fasli kaun hi?" It is beautiful to see Deepak drawing courage and support from his bunch of friends who are partners in all his love adventures and creativity he does to express his love to Shaalu but it is also quite evident that they too are caught up with the reality of their society and fear it; they tell him that Shaalu is an upper caste girl, therefore, "Jyaada Senti venti nahi hona" (Beware, do not be too sentimental). Deepak's effort to break free from the shackles of his traditional family profession of burning dead bodies on the ghats of Benaras and become an engineer is inspiring and at the same time his getting haunted by the reality of being a lower caste which is a barrier to his love is heartrending to watch.
Shaalu Gupta's role is donned by the lovely and beautiful Swetha Tripathi. Her love for poetries of Dushyant Kumar, Ghalib, Nida Fazli, Bashir Badr, Akbar Allahabadi and her pristine love for Deepak makes you fall in love with her. Swetha brings in a kind of freshness to the lovebirds portrayed in Bollywood these days. There are some awesome scenes where you simply admire her for her acting like when she tells Deepak' "Tum Bahuth Buddoo Ho" and when she looks up to see the red balloon float above the market fair. When you want more of these two lovers you go through a jolt which leaves you speechless. Swetha Tripathi as Shaalu stays with you even when you leave the theater with her beautiful lines on screen - " Tu Kisi Rail Si Guzarti Hi, Main Kisi Pool Sa Thartaratha Hun..."
What happens to Masaan's two love stories that are run parallely in the end, is something you need to find in a nearby theatre. Neeraj Ghaywan deserves all the accolades he is receiving for his fantastic movie. Masaan has already added a few feather on its cap at 68th Cannes International Film Festival 2015 - International Federation of Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI) and Prix de I'Avenir 'Most Promising Newcomer' Award for Neeraj Ghaywan in the Un Certain Regard section.
Varun Grover's lyrics clubbed with Indian Ocean's music soothes and touches your heart. It works as the soul of the movie. Avinash Arun Dhaware's cinematography is fabulous and eye catching. It is commendable, impressive and gives us a new feel of the ghats.
In the end, for me Masaan's Cannes' edition was more appealing because there were certain scenes that added more value to the whole plot which is missing in the Indian edition, well Neeraj may have his own reasons and compulsions to edit them. But still it is definitely a must watch.
How I wish that Masaan could have also explored with the possibility of materializing one of the love story so that it could have directly challenged the so called conservative society.
Watch Masaan and I am sure you will carry a balloon way back to your home and shall set it free before you enter it to watch your love to see it.
Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.5/5