Masaan is not just a movie; it is a surreal experience which would not leave your mind & soul forever. It is about love, death, loss, betrayal, friendships, angst, frustration, depression, reality check, hope and if put into full perspective, it is about life!
I had read about this movie last year when it was in the shooting/production phase and was sure that it was going to be a brilliant one considering it came from the house of Phantom Films plus the fact that it was based in Varanasi! (I was planning my first Varanasi trip then!). And the Director of the film Neeraj Ghaywan was the Assistant Director of Gangs of Wasseypur made me furthermore excited (after all everything related to GoW has to be awesome).
I read about Masaan getting rave reviews at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and made the first post about this movie on our Facebook Movie Group 1 Minute Movie Review on 20 May with the International Trailer and wrote “Directed by GoW’s Asssistant Director Neeraj Ghaywan and produced by Anurag Kashyap, “Masaan” is being showcased at Cannes and is getting rave reviews! Shot in Varanasi the story has a contemporary feel…do watch the trailer…looks very interesting to me!” I started researching more and got to know about Neeraj Ghaywan and his background that he is an alumnus of CBIT & SIBM, left his job to join the digital marketing wing of UTV New Media and then joined Anurag Kashyap. I follow the FB Page of Phantom Films since the day it started; thanks to that started following the official FB page of Masaan too and then waited for them to release the trailer. The movie won 2 awards ( FIPRESCI Prize in the Un Certain Regard section and a ‘Promising Future’ prize (Prix de l’avenir) for debut films) at the CFF and received rave reviews from everybody!
The official Indian Trailer was released on 26 June and as expected it was a fabulous one. The music, the set-up, the dialogues and the theme of the trailer was simply fantastic! There was no doubt left in my mind that this movie was going to be a masterpiece! Watch the Trailer here:
And then the 2 songs were released too; Indian Ocean had once again nailed it with their brilliant work. Plus Varun Grover’s magical lyrics added further magic! I have been humming the 3 songs since the day they were released! Infact during our recent PolCzech Trip I played the Youtube Jukebox on repeat mode while gazing the Tatra Mountains in Poland when we stayed in Zab! What a scene it was.
I never expected this movie to be released here in Kuwait as it had no big stars but then I guess God got very kind on me! I randomly checked the Cinescape page 2 days back and could not believe my eyes when I saw Masaan listed! I wasted no further time in booking the tickets! The reviews for this movie have been overwhelmingly positive and I am yet to reach any average/negative review!
We drove some 30-odd kms to the Ajial Mall in Fahaheel to watch this movie in an almost empty theatre! 2 Kuwaiti Couples, 2 Indian couples and another Couple with a kid like us! yes, that’s it! This ensured that our son Abhay could move around freely up & down the stairs and doing what he does best – monkeying around!
I was glued to my seat and my eyes were glued to the screen from the moment the credits rolled in and then the magic began…
The movie is not just about Varanasi, the characters, the music, the Ghats, the love stories or the story; it is an amalgamation of everything combined so blissfully that it left us spellbound beyond belief.
Each of the main character of this movie has been etched brilliantly and they have done full justice to the role given to them.
Deepak, the male protagonist played by Vicky Kaushal who made his screen debut with this film has portrayed the love-struck young man character perfectly well; his eyes are so emotive and it never felt even once that he was acting! Everything seemed so natural! The scene in which he breaks down after getting completely was the most impactful scene of the movie for me.
Shweta Tripathi as Shaalu Gupta is the perfect small-town girl with small dreams and a simplicity which comes across so naturally through her dialogues and emotions!
Richa Chadda as Devi Pathak is the firebrand yet sad woman who gets stuck in an unexpected controversy but never loses focus or direction and emerges as a winner in the end! She is definitely one of the best actresses of the recent times with such diverse roles! She was simply awesome in Gangs of Wasseypur, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Fukrey!
Sanjay Mishra as Vidyadhar Pathak has once again done a brilliant job like he always does! This role was pretty much tailor-made for him and no other actor could have done a better job! His simple demeanor, lost eyes and confused angst comes out brilliantly. You feel sad for him when he is fighting his demons when going against his ideals. And he replied to my tweet yesterday which was super cool too!
Pankaj Tripathi as Sadhya Ji has only 3-4 scenes but what an impact he makes with his soft-spoken dialogues and the perpetual smile! He was menacing as Sultan Qureshi in GoW and here he plays a diagonally opposite character voicing this poignant dialogue “yahan aana bahut aasaan hai, par jana bahut mushkil”.
And then there is Jhonta played by Nikhil Sahni (another debutant) who is way too awesome as the orphan sidekick to Pandit Pathak and spitting out words like “aapki kyon sulag rahi hai”! Hope he gets more movies to get even better!
The scenes where Deepak pursues Shaalu are the highlight of the first half of the movie and I could feel my college years came gushing back to my mind! Of following girls and trying the best to impress them! Obviously there were no Mobile Phones or FB in use then, we are from the Archies Greeting Cards and Landline generation you see! Ohh what fun days those were!
Another highlight was the the almost silent and poignant moments captured between the father and the daughter bringing out the angst so perfectly without speaking much! Brilliant is the word!
The story & songs have been co-written by Varun Grover whom I follow quite closely through FB and he was also the co-writer of GoW. He studied in IT-BHU so his rendition of the story is both real and up to date at the same time. For me he is one of the most talented & powerhouse story writers of the current times.
A lot of credit for the brilliance of this movie goes to the director Neeraj Ghaywan for bringing out his vision on the big screen in such a touching and effective way. He never goes overboard with showing the filth and poverty of Varanasi but focusses on the reality! The scenes shot on the Harishchandra Ghat are in your face but still remain quite simple. He has been groomed by Anurag Kashyap and I am sure there would be a lot of superb movies from him in the future! Our cinema definitely needs more Neerajs to keep the fire burning bright! The attention to detail is incredible indeed; right from Deepak wearing the Bata brand “Power” shoes and the hand woven half-sleeves sweater (very common across North India) to the artificial flowers & the vase once can see in the background in Pandit Ji’s home!
I was in Varanasi just 4 months back with my family and could identify a lot of the locations used in the movie! I clearly believe that everybody must visit that city atleast once to live through the magic of the city! It has a feel which just can’t be described in words and can only be felt! I wrote a travelogue about my trip which you can read here: The Varanasi Trip ||| March 2015
I would never forget the the words of blessing given to my son by an old Boatman “jab tak Ganga-Jamuna mein paani rahe, tab tak teri zindagaani rahe”…That’s the essence of Varanasi!
Indian Railways also play an important role as both Deepak and Devi get jobs there and even though the mention is quite subtle but I felt that it is was very relevant to the plot of the movie! Plus the words of the song “Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai” adds to my theory!
I would not disclose too much about the plot or the ending more than what the trailer suggests as that would spoil the fun for those who haven’t watched the movie so far but I never expected the movie to end on the note it ends with and I was pleasantly surprised to see the camera pan out at “Sangam” and thematically both the stories & 2 characters also reach their “Sangam” or “Convergence”! For the uninitiated, Sangam is the confluence of three rivers at Allahabad: the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. I am yet to visit that place and after watching Masaan, that is very high on my priority list.
Please go and watch this movie ASAP to experience the magic and the brilliance; movies like these need to earn money so that Directors like Neeraj get motivated even further! It has received universal critical acclaim but I expect it to earn much more money too! More power to Phantom Films for having the conviction to produce movies like this! Kudos to the other co-producers Drishyam Films, Macassar Productions, Arte France Cinema, Pathé Productions and Sikhya Entertainment as well.
This was the second movie watched by our son Abhay in the cinema hall and he had a ball rollicking up & down down the theatre stairs all the way through! He stood up and danced when the song “Mann Kasturi” played though! It is nowhere close to being a dance number but a 18-months kid isn’t supposed to know that! He just listens to any form of music and starts tapping his feet!
The movie is still lingering on to my thoughts even after almost 24 hours of watching it and I hope it stays with me forever because such movies are rarely made in India! I would be definitely buying the DVD whenever it is released to make it a permanent part of my collection! Just like the GoW Saga!
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…