Masaan - Review

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quick review:

Despite being set in a crematorium and having a sense of morbidity throughout, Masaan isn't grim. Nor is it gay despite its wit. Masaan carries equanimity of sorts in the “life is what it is” kind of a way with simplicity and flair in equal measure.

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“It will all sort itself out.” says a girl to her boyfriend earnestly, a spark of optimism shining through her eyes at having found a solution. A solution to her problem. A solution to all problems – including yours and mine. An answer to a question the film itself raises, “When does this grief go away?”. “It will all sort itself out,” hardly a profound statement, but a hope that we all have to live by, if life has to make any sense at all. Masaan set in those parts of the River Ganges that is a crematorium – has talks about life. And it goes about its business with tenderness. It does leave you with a sense of discontent – maybe its own way of making one last comment on life.

Masaan narrates the stories of two very ordinary lives, except for that one big event that turns their worlds downside up. Not only do they have to overcome those incidents but also break free from bondages that were holding them in the first place.

While Masaan is set in a small town, these two stories would resonate with any section of the audience from any place in the country. Maybe because they aren't spectacular tales. Their problem could be replaced by ours and the way we cope with it remains more or less same.

When you are talking about a film and the first few things are related to how engaging the theme is, you know the film has done its job in all the departments. In fact, Masaan makes a comment about the country's attitude towards sex and the lop-sided morality it carries for men and women. But, as the film progresses and becomes less and less about that. It becomes about the other themes and all other aspects of film-making are taken for granted.

The writing, for example, is thoroughly engaging. Not only because it has witty lines or insightful ones, but because it also has ordinary lines that are timed perfectly. In fact, the timing of the dialogue (and not only how it is delivered) draws you further into the narrative.

There are unresolved scenes which add to the narrative and the discontent. You don't know the motivations of a character and eventually it doesn't matter. You are in the moment with the characters and that's all that counts.

The characters – Devi (Richa Chadda) or her father Choudhary (Sanjay Mishra), Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) - are all a bit broken and thus complete. Deepak's girlfriend Shaalu (Shweta Tripathi) is that one person in anyone's life who is vivacious and yet balanced. Even a largely dark character like a blackmailing police officer shows a hint of humanity.

Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi and Sanjay Mishra are such naturals in their roles that Richa Chadda who usually stumps you with her performances feels drab. Sure, her character is yet to recover from the shock that life has brought on her. Yet, she sticks out as vacant amidst the candour of the rest of the actors.

There isn't much of a situational connect between the two stories. The connect is more philosophical. Hence, we'll never know what would happen if the actual connect which seems forced wasn't there. What if the stories ran parallel with the river Ganges, the ring, the train serving as connects.

And the loneliness. The impermanence of it all – love and grief over the loss of love; life and grief over the loss of life. Equanimity.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None.
  • Language: A few abusive words.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: There is a sex scene and a few kisses. Also, there is talk about sex.
  • Concept: The “is”ness of life.
  • General Look and Feel: Real – gritty yet not necessarily grim.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 4
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 4
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 3.5
  • Lyrics: 3.5

Masaan - Movie Details

Masaan - Trailer

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Comments (2)

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Fan:

This year I am lagging behind in films and constantly in catch-up mode. Finally got a chance to watch Masaan, with the massive hype and Cannes recognition galore around it. Of course I had not done my research around the production houses involved in the making of this film otherwise all the hype and Cannes stuff would have been self explanatory. Yeah you guessed it right, once again we have a certain Kashyap guy at the helm of affairs and in his way marketing the film. Being co-produced by some of the French movie industries' biggies (Arte, Pathe, to name just two) ensured the Cannes success.

Anyway, leaving aside the marketing at which Kashyap regularly shows to have an ace up his sleeve, was the films on its own merits worth the affair?

Yes, the start of the film is quite interesting. Starting with an attempt at pre-marital affair ending up in a tragedy. That lays the foundation and builds up expectations.

However, it was never clarified as to why the hell where there two stories juxtaposed and the screenplay shifted from one to another without having any direct or indirect connection. Yeah, arty films are supposed to do that - we have to be smart enough to understand what is going on.

Having said that, the story of Devi does tug at your heart, when you see the simpleton lives being turned topsy-turvy by the flagrant corruption and dishonesty in the system. Dishonesty because there was no basis for blackmailing but still the simpletons fall for it. Corruption: yes it was too obvious. So Devi makes you feel for her. What helps enormously in this tugging of the heart are of course excellent performances of Richa Chhadda, and once again the immensely talented Sanjay Mishra.

Alongside this runs the second tale of the young lovers. The tale in itself is nothing great, happens at hundreds of thousands of places in each corner of India. What makes it worth watching are the performances of the leading pair. Both characters were played out by the concerned actors (Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi) in an absolute natural convincing manner. Full marks to them.

Ending of the movie was once again in keeping in line with your standard art film - too difficult to fathom. It's like the director reaching the end of the allocated time realizes that the film must end and so it does. As illogical an ending as with any art film.

Background music was a big letdown in one of the most touching moments in the film. Without giving the movie away, it was the biggest twist point in the film, [comment deleted partially because it gives the movie away]; the music was horrible. It needed a strong composition to carry with it the enormity of the event but it let us down.

On the whole: grey film like in BA Pass or any similar ilk; although it lightens once it progresses and you accept the fate of the characters. Fantastic performances from the 4 cited actors. Story: can happen in any city that we know of India. Sexual content: quite strong, justifying the "A" certificate. Although it is limited to 2 or 3 scenes maximum. Good watch, if you have nothing better do. Otherwise nothing to regret if you cannot get an opportunity to watch it.

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 3
Story: 2
Lead Actors: 3
Character Artists: 3.5

Dialogues: 2.5
Screenplay: 3
Music Director: 1
Lyrics: 1

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