Saturday, January 02, 2016

1. Masaan

My #100MoviePact got off to a great start with that one movie I was dying to watch last year but could not, thanks to a change of jobs and cities (complicated further by a college and family reunion).
Masaan was absolutely stunning, to say the least and I don’t think I have much to say beyond what the unanimously gushing critics have done already.

Director Neeraj Ghaywan revealed in the Making Of section that he had got the idea for one-third of the film – the love story of Deepak and Shaalu – when he was told by a colleague about the Dom community (who burn dead bodies on the banks of Ganga). He wanted to make a short film with it and coopted writer Varun Grover (who graduated from IIT-BHU) for his intimate knowledge of Banaras. The second story of Devi developed from there and along with it came Devi’s father and a young orphan boy.
A film made from intertwined stories of different characters – as a concept – is nothing new but where Masaan differentiates is to eschew a grand closing where all the pieces (or characters) converge at a dramatic crescendo. The crossing of paths of the five main characters happen very subtly, smoothly and with a maturity that belie the youth of the writer-director duo. I felt that Masaan became a great film because they didn’t do a “look how coolly I resolved the ending” kind of stunt.  

The casting of Masaan is fantastic, with every bit player looking the part and playing the part.
The bullying police officer. Deepak’s friends, who form a typical girl-obsessed, flamboyantly dressed quartet. The internet café owner. The owner of the computer coaching institute. Even the postman bearing good news – who appeared for all of ten seconds – stood out.
And of course, the major players – Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Shweta Tripathi, Richa Chadha – were fantastic though the revelation of the film was Vicky Kaushal playing Deepak, the love-struck yet ambitious civil engineering student.

Loved the small details as well…
The snatches from the QSQT soundtrack forming the score for the love story.
The shayeri recital on phone, harking back to a similar scene in Aandhi with Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar.
The amazingly life-like dialogues that are typical of East UP, be it the roadside romancing or campus interviews at engineering polytechnics. Silly banter between teenagers as well as uncomfortable conversations around sex between a father and daughter, all of them are superbly written.

And finally, a special mention for the soaring music score by Indian Ocean (helped, in no small measure, by Grover's lyrics)… the Durga Puja scene in which Tu kisi rail si plays has to be one of the best song picturisations of recent times – the visuals, the words and the music forming a soaring effect. (Watch the film to see what I just did there!)

Masaan is a searingly real portrayal of small-town India - the loves, the fears, the ambitions, the insecurities, the honesty, the corruption, the trains, the bridges, the lives, the deaths... If you haven't watched it, I'd say you have not experienced India to the fullest, not seen Indian cinema at its best. 

Do read this Hindi review of the film: किसी कविता सी गुजरती है ‘मसान’
And check out this album of Banarasi lingo. Bhayankar phun!


kala kavva said...

I watched it too on Jan 1st. The movie surely asks for repeat viewing, which I will after 2 weeks. I liked everybody, but the what I remember most are:
Vicky, the cop, the station ticket assistant, the music and the lyrics of 'Rail', the small talk-flirting in eastern UP dialect and Ms. chadha.

Also, the recording of the girls voice, then adding song clips to it and gifting it to her... reminded me of my youth and my deeds.

While watching, I felt that the second half, especially near the end, was little filmy. But then, maybe, it is just me.

Bricks4KidzChesterCo said...

watched this one. Really Liked Richa Chadha and Dushyant kumar's poem. I also watched "Titli". Brain fried .

Sabyasachi Mitra said...

Waiting for your 2015 round up.

Sabyasachi Mitra said...

Waiting for your 2015 round up.

Prithwijit said...

Kisi rail se guzar ti hai was the second option. Had things gone all right, the first choice for the song was this piece by Uday Prakash (*imagines you imagining what would happen if it was indeed Uday Prakash and not Dushyant Kumar*)

तुम मिसरी की डली बन जाअो
मैं दूध बन जाता हूँ
तुम मुझमें
घुल जाअो ।
तुम ढाई साल की बच्ची बन जाअो
मैं मिसरी घुला दूध हूँ मीठा
मुझे एक साँस में पी जाअो ।
अब मैं मैदान हूँ
तुम्हारे सामने दूर तक फैला हुआ ।
मुझमें दौड़ो । मैं पहाड़ हूँ ।
मेरे कन्धों पर चढ़ो अौर फिसलो ।
मैं सेमल का पेड़ हूँ
मुझे ज़ोर-ज़ोर से झकझोरो अौर
मेरी रुई को हवा की तमाम परतों में
बादलों के छोटे-छोटे टुकड़ों की तरह
उड़ जाने दो ।
ऐसा करता हूँ कि मैं
अखरोट बन जाता हूँ
तुम उसे चुरा लो
अौर किसी कोने में छुपकर
उसे तोड़ो ।
गेहूँ का दाना बन जाता हूँ मैं,
तुम धूप बन जाअो
मिट्टी-हवा-पानी बनकर
मझे उगाअो
मेरे भीतर के रिक्त कोषों में
लुका-छिपी खेलो या कोंपल होकर
मेरी किसी भी गाँठ से
कहीं से भी
तुरत फूट जाअो ।
तुम अँधेरा बन जाअो
मैं बिल्ली बनकर दबे पाँव
चलूँगा चोरी-चोरी ।
कयों न ऐसा करें
कि मैं चीनी मिट्टी का प्याला बन जाता हूँ
अौर तुम तश्तरी
अौर हम कहीं से
गिरकर एक साथ
टूट जाते हैं सुबह-सुबह ।
या मैं गुब्बारा बनता हूँ
नीले रंग का
तुम उसके भीतर की हवा बनकर
फैलो अौर
बीच आकाश में
मेरे साथ फूट जाअो ।
या फीर...
ऐसा करते हैं
कि हम कुछ अौर बन जाते हैं... ।

Krishanu said...

This was a brilliant movie. I very seldom watch a movie twice, but I had the second viewing a month after the first, and was still blown away with the concept, the flow, the visualization, the songs, and the ending. The ending was brilliant - I can't think of a such a low key ending having such a profound impact on the overall movie that I have watched (btw, I am by no way a movie buff).

kala kavva said...

Watched it the 3rd time today. Still love it. The way they have captured the city, the accent.. attention to details is amazing.

I, for some reason, find the repeated viewing therapeutic.