Thursday, August 6, 2015

Masaan - Movie Review

For a movie that has no stars and opens with two shows despite earning praise overseas, Masaan has, through sheer merit, pushed itself into its second week. Last week me and Sagar tried to book the 430 show and the tickets were all sold a day in advance. The day before yesterday I tried to book tickets for the 1050 pm show and found no tickets available. Yesterday I found one ticket at a half decent spot and quickly locked into the 1050 pm show.

Masaan is about two love stories. One between Deepak, the son of a man whose profession it is to burn corpses (apparently Masaan is the name of the profession) at the Harischandra ghat in Varanasi, and Shaalu, the daughter of a wealthy, conservative, upper caste Hindu. The other, between the daughter of a Professor of Sanskrit who now sells merchandise at the ghats and does some odd translations, and a rich businessman's son. Both the stories are doomed even before they begin but what director Neeraj Ghaywan does with the characters and how he unveils the story is very interesting.

The stories are tender, vulnerable and strong. I am curious to recreate what Neeraj thought as he tied the stories together. Both stories show love in its vulnerability and uncertainty. Both stories encounter deep trauma as this tenderness, something the characters are not used to, gets exposed to real life. Can one reach out for something ephemeral, a dream or an illusion at best, but certainly a magical space they have experienced without dragging the heaviness of their lives onto it? It appears so. That one cannot be tender and experience such pure emotions - one has to harden before one can hold it close.

Masaan is all about the little things one hopes for that happen and then go hopelessly wrong. Do we have the consciousness to hold on to it? Do we have the courage and confidence to engage with it? Do we know what we have set in motion without thinking whether we are capable of all that can happen in its wake? Neeraj Ghaywan grows tenderness in the burning ghats, preserves it and then makes the man who can see death up close everyday, break down in the grief of a love that's gone. He makes the young swimmer almost die but allows him the prize catch of a ring. He lets the panditji have his share of experimenting with luck and just when he is about to give up, lets him have his peace. He also lets two anchorless souls drift towards one another when they let go of their past, their grief. And he tells the story with great confidence.

Neeraj Ghaywan is from Hyderabad. He passed out of CBIT in 2002 according to the Wiki page on him and after studying in Symbiosis went to to assist Anurag Kashyap in 'Gangs of Wasseypur' and 'Ungli'. Richa Chadda is intense. Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi make the small town romance stand up and dance. After a quick stolen kiss, an embarrassed Deepak redeems himself with a quick, you're the youngest in your family and that's why I too had to express my love for you. Good smart dialogue. Great story telling. the scene where Richa goes into her dead lover's house is a standout. Brilliant. Good things ahead from Neeraj. Watch it if you can. Absolutely recommended. I also like the way Hyderabad and Hyderabadis are stealing the show these days - from Bahubali to Masaan. Interesting.

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