Rating : 4.5/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours
Director : Neeraj Ghaywan
Cast : Richa Chadda, Sanjay Mishra, Vicky Kaushal, Bhagwan Tiwari, Pankaj Tripathi, Nikhil Sahni
Kid rating: PG-15
Devi Pathak (Chaddha) is a computer instructor at a local coaching institute. Her life is turned upside down when a carefully planned sexual tryst goes awry. The police rush in to the hotel room where she and her partner are ensconced, beat up the guy, film her in a state of undress, and take them to the police station, threatening to “expose” them for their “indecency”.
In a parallel storyline, we see Deepak (Kaushal), son of a lower-caste Dom family, trying to break free of the caste-ordained profession (cremating bodies on the banks of the Ganges). He is in love with a higher-caste girl, but that love-story is destined to fail.
Both stories are located in Banaras, a small town in Uttar Pradesh known chiefly for its religious bent and cultural orthodoxy. Devi and Deepak are caught up in fighting this orthodoxy, in their own ways. She seems almost rebellious and unashamed of her sexual proclivities (unlike a “good girl”), while he dares to defy the caste system.
It is not surprising to see Devi and Deepak’s hapless lives unfold on screen, because that is what small-town India is like. Sexual repression is the norm. Women must be “pure” and keep their “honor” (like their hymen) intact, i.e.; sex and thoughts about sex are taboo. Society enforces tacit rules of caste and class. We know this, and yet it is disturbing to see those visceral images on screen. Devi’s humiliation and her old impoverished father’s (Mishra) helplessness is hard to watch. Deepak’s desperation makes me squirm.
Director Ghaywan tells it like it is. And this is why the film succeeds. I feel for Devi and Deepak, wrapped up in their anger against the all-pervading corruption, system, society which makes living life as you see fit so, so difficult. But there is also courage and hope. And that is quite something.
I highly recommend Masaan for its fabulous truth-telling, great direction and incredible cast. Kudos!
Kidwise: This is obviously not kid-friendly material, although older teens might appreciate the film.