Rating: 3/5 Stars (Three stars)
Star Cast: Richa Chadda, Vicky Kaushal, Sanjay Mishra, Shweta Tripathi, Vineet Kumar
Director: Neeraj Ghaywan
Producers: Sikhya Entertainment, Phantom Films, Drishyam Films, Maccassar Productions
Music: Indian Ocean, Bruno Coulais
Writers: Neeraj Ghaywan, Varun Grover
What’s Good: The premise of ‘Masaan’ is fairly engaging. Parallel stories of two young people who have grown up surrounded by the Hindu rites of death, already establish that their circumstances are a disadvantage. How traditional small towns norms can damage a person’s life is subtly argued. The film is effective without filmy drama.
A second good reason is its narrative which plays out like a slice of real life minus the moroseness. In dialogues, writing & it’s use of Hindi couplets, ‘Masaan’ has brilliantly captured truisms of Eastern Uttar Pradesh’s local culture.
What’s Bad: Masaan comes across an unclear on it’s central argument at times; in keeping everything low key & subtle, it’s narrative confuses if the film is highlighting social taboos & their impact; or is it just focusing on human reactions to unforeseen circumstances.
The film’s backdrop is unseen, and its story ambitious in it’s attempt to tackle complexities. Which is where, Masaan flounders slightly & slows its pace.
Loo break: You could take one, but best to wait for the interval.
‘Masaan’ tells two stories at the same time- that of a young girl whose adventurous fling ends in disaster for her and her father. Wrangling to meet blackmail payments, and facing social shaming, she shoulders on to build an independent career. Her father runs a small shop of last rites goods at a Benaras cremation ghat. Acceptance of fate comes naturally to him even as he is simmering with hurt.
The second story is of a young, promising engineering student who wants to leave behind his origins as a son of a professional cremator. He falls in love with a luminous, lovely upper caste girl, but then life takes a tragic turn. His acceptance of fate doesn’t come easy. Picking himself up, he rebuilds his future.
Paths of these two young people cross in Allahbad, and hope is reborn.
This isn’t a dramatic, thrilling plot. However, ‘Masaan’ is narrated beautifully and realistically. It captures small town realities in a rare, unseen setting of the cremation grounds. Through all it’s complexities, the somnumbulent Ganges runs through, bringing in serenity & a reality check.
Masaan Review: Script Analysis
Masaan is a solid, heartfelt, human story. In it’s treatment, its closer to European cinema.
Having said that, the script doesn’t pack surprises. A crucial plot point in the male protagonist’s life is almost predictable. It’s easy to understand why this film might appeal so much to European festival audiences. It’s an untold celluloid story. But in it’s pace, and tendency to underplay emotions, ‘Masaan’ slows down when it shouldn’t.
Masaan Review: Star Performances
In ‘Masaan’, the best performance is that of Sanjay Mishra. Secondly, Vineet Kumar, as a professional cremator, is brilliant. Pankaj Tripathi is surprisingly charming.
Vicky Kaushal & Shweta Tripathi show promise, display natural chemistry & deliver the most convincing onscreen kissing scene in a long time!
Richa Chaddha however, despite getting a strong part, doesn’t always deliver. She comes across as cold in some scenes, although at most times she fits her character perfectly.
Masaan Review: Music, Direction & Cinematography
The film’s un garnished, raw cinematography is a strong plus, and it’s easy blend with Indian Ocean’s soundtrack is simply stunning. Bruno Coulais also delivers background music completely in sync with the film. It’s rooted sounds grow on you.
Director Neeraj Ghaywan is definitely a find, a fresh new voice; one that is brave and uncomplicated in story telling. He has introduced authenticity in a rare story & delivered a sensitive film with finesse.
Masaan Review: The Last Word
Masaan releases on 24th July, 2015.
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