The journey of Masaan from making to an Indian theatrical release is as interesting as the film’s subject – lives of people that revolve around cremation ghats of Benaras. Co-produced by Manish Mundhra (Drishyam Films), Phantom Films (Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl & Vikramaditya Motwane), Sikhya Entertainment (Guneet Monga) and the Paris based Macassar Productions, this is a classic Indie collaboration of European & Indian alternate cinema.
When you watch the film, you notice why an international producer might get interested. Be it performances, characters, incidents or human reactions to crucial life experiences, Masaan nails authenticity. In its actors Shweta Tripathi & Vicky Kaushal, and its director Neeraj Ghawyan, the film has introduced fresh, promising talent.
A second good reason to watch this film is its soundtrack. Compositions by Indian Ocean (India’s most popular band) & Bruno Coulais, the film has used popular Hindi poetry to create hummable melodies. In this effort, Masaan focuses on the colloquial music and language of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, a dying form in mainstream Hindi cinema at least.
Most importantly, ‘Masaan’ should be watched for its story. It’s slow on the uptake and surprisingly unemotional at some crucial points. But its focus on lives of those who help Hindu make the final journey is rare. That itself makes it interesting.
This Indie film went on to win the Fipresci, and the International Jury of Film Critics and Promising Future Prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2015. Can’t pronounce these? Don’t worry, watch this film for a typical slice of Indian life that usually never makes it onto the silver screen.