Masaan is an intriguing tale of love, death and tragedy told effectively by debutant Neeraj Ghaywan
Brain-o-meter Rating: 8.5/10
Easily one of the best of the year 2015, right up there with Piku, Talvar and Badlapur, Masaan is a fantastic tale written magnificently by Varun Grover and set in Benaras that brings alive the travails and tribulations of its residents, along with the societal pressures that push the characters intermittently. A sexual escapade results in a tragedy, a helpless father gets stuck in paying up a huge amount, a low-caste engineer is unable to come to terms with his background and a girl who is in love and is willing to do anything to be together with her guy. These stories are existing in all the towns of the country, and were waiting to be told, and Masaan brilliantly captures each of the struggles in a realistic fashion as the events unfold near the Ganga ghats.
Director Neeraj Ghaywan strikes his vision on the story in a manner that challenges the viewers to look away but cannot. Consistently paced and eminently watchable, the flick deserves kudos for showing pathos in a milieu where there is no redemption. Each of the characters rely on time to be their healer, as they try to extricate themselves out of the mess they are thrown into. The father-daughter angle is told with sensitivity and compassion and one can relate to them, as guilt, anger, sorrow and tragedy all come to the fore. The music and lyrics written by Grover lends a helping hand to the other story that speaks about love between two young people. The narrative lends additional heft to the tragic story with the help of beautiful shayri and the song, "Tu Kisi Rail ki Tarah."
Richa Chadda is powerful as the guilt-ridden daughter, along with the equally terrific Sanjay Mishra as her father. Shweta Tripathi looks beautiful and innocent in her short role while Vicky Kaushal works through the intrinsic fabric of his character subtly, although he is a debutant. Even the inspector who demands money, and the child who works for Sanjay Mishra are great in their short roles. Pankaj Tripathi of GOW fame, exudes humour in his brief role, and stays true to his bumbling character.
The cinematography by ace cinematographer and director Avinash Arun adds sheen to the narrative with his poignant picturisation of the Ganges, the Sangam and the nearby village. The smashaan or masaan of the title is rendered in stoic frames and sombre flames. Note the sequence where multiple corpses are laid near the Ganges, the lighting is too good and the pathos is created with a deft wave of effectively laid still shots.
Watch Masaan if you haven't seen it yet. It is a terrific movie with a great story that speaks volumes about the talent that is coming up through independent cinema.