by Harsh Vardhan
When it comes to our film industry, we are all aware of the kind of lacklustre 150 minute experience we are generally served with, in the name of cinema. One of the major issues that is deep-rooted within Indian film makers is, I feel, their reliance on superstars for the success of their film. Unlike Hollywood, which is considered to be the biggest film-making industry in the world, directors and scriptwriters in our industry have to take the back seat and let the major superstars decide the fate of the movie. Their face value is purported to be the real value of a film. Seldom do we hear about movies that have done exceptionally well but didn’t have a superstar (male or female) in it.
Masaan, directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, is a special film considering all the aspects mentioned above. It has been almost a year now since Masaan released, and it's certainly carved its own niche among the audience by now.
Masaan tells a simple story about how can someone face his/her fate, fight with it and eventually come to terms with it. It involves two parallel narratives, one where the character of Devi Pathak (Richa Chaddha) and her father are extorted by a police officer for bribery, to stop him from uploading barely clad pictures of Devi that he had taken when he “caught” her along with her love interest, Piyush, in a hotel room, and the other one deals with the tragic love story of Deepak Chowdhury (Vicky Kaushal) and how he deals with it.
The common thing that both the narratives highlight is how someone can deal with a problem without antagonizing everything around them. Both the leads in the movie belong to a similar background and have their own set of inherited issues, apart from the ones they get involved into. What’s great about the character portrayals is that none of the leads are shown to be flawless. They are no heroes and do not rise to any occasion. Instead, what they really do is accept their respective scenarios and somehow go around it.
On the surface, both the narratives of Masaan are admittedly pretty simple, but once you are done with the movie, I promise, you will contemplate on the various issues and themes both the narratives deal with (without having to resort to crude and explicit metaphors with the subtlety of an anvil) for a long time to come.
The setup of the film is quite disturbing, and can even make squeamish people lose their attention at times, but once you adjust with the realism on display, you absolutely will find yourself rooting for the characters in a way you might not have expected.
Masaan is an evidence of the capability that is buried within our industry and only spins up once or twice in a year. It makes your condescending belief in our industry’s quality hit abeyance and indulges into alleys of hope and reality.
This film will make you cringe, and it will dismay you. And that is exactly when it achieves success - because isn’t that the whole point of a movie? To perturb your emotions in a way that makes you think about them?