Masaan

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Masaan
Masaan poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byNeeraj Ghaywan
Written byVarun Grover
Produced byDrishyam Films
Phantom Films
Macassar Productions
Sikhya Entertainment
Kanchan Chandnani
StarringRicha Chadda
Vicky Kaushal
Shweta Tripathi
Sanjay Mishra
CinematographyAvinash Arun
Edited byNitin Baid
Music byIndian Ocean
Production
companies
Distributed byPathé (France)
Release dates
  • 19 May 2015 (2015-05-19) (Cannes)
  • 24 June 2015 (2015-06-24) (France)
  • 24 July 2015 (2015-07-24) (India)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi

Masaan (transl. 'Crematorium'; also known as Fly Away Solo in English) is a 2015 Indian Hindi-language independent drama film and starring Richa Chadda and Vicky Kaushal in lead roles.[1] It is Kaushal's debut Hindi film, and is also the directorial debut of Neeraj Ghaywan. It is an Indo-French co-production produced by Drishyam Films, Macassar Productions, Phantom Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Arte France Cinema and Pathé Productions.[2]

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival winning two awards.[3][4][5] it was screened at the inaugural New York Dalit Film and Cultural Festival in 2019 along with Pariyerum Perumal (2018), Kaala (2018) and Fandry (2013).[6] Since its release in 2015, the film has gone on to achieve cult status.[7]

Plot[edit]

Masaan tracks the lives of two young people in Varanasi, India.[8]

Devi Pathak, a trainer at a coaching computer center and her student, Piyush Aggarwal, are caught having sex in a hotel room by policemen who had been tipped off by the hotel staff. Inspector Mishra records the barely clad Devi on his mobile phone. Piyush locks himself in the bathroom and commits suicide by slitting his wrists. Inspector Mishra threatens to book Devi for abetting Piyush's suicide and demands a bribe of 300,000 (equivalent to 380,000 or US$4,800 in 2020) from Devi's father Vidyadhar Pathak, a Sanskrit professor who now runs a book shop with an income of about Rs 10000 per month. Pathak is tempted by a betting game, where people bet on small boys to dive and collect the maximum number of coins from the Ganges riverbed within a specified time. He had previously barred Jhonta, a boy who works at his shop, from participating in the diving game but relents after Mishra's threats increase. Devi cycles through jobs at different coaching centers, facing harassment by colleagues as the news of her affair spreads. She eventually gets a temporary government job in Indian Railways, but tells her father she wishes to leave Varanasi to study at Allahabad University as soon as Mishra's bribe is paid in full.

Deepak Kumar (Vicky Kaushal) is the youngest of a Dom family working in the cremation ghats. He is a civil engineering student at a polytechnic college. Deepak's father doesn't want to see his sons continue the hereditary job. Deepak falls in love with Shaalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi), a high caste Hindu girl. They start meeting each other and during a trip to Allahabad on the banks of the Ganges, they share an intimate moment. Back in Varanasi, Deepak tells her about his caste and the work he does burning corpses. Shaalu doesn't mind and says that she is ready to run away with him if her parents refuse. She asks him to focus on his exams and getting a good job.

On a pilgrimage trip with her family, Shaalu dies in a bus accident. Her body with those of other victims ends up at the same cremation ground where Deepak's family works. Deepak is devastated on seeing her dead body. He eventually overcomes his grief and is hired by Indian Railways as an engineer in Allahabad.

In a special diving competition, Pathak bets Rs 10000, a significant portion of his remaining savings, on Jhonta. Jhonta drowns and is taken to a hospital by Vidyadhar, who vows to never let the boy participate in the diving competition again. As Jhonta regains consciousness, he is shown to have found Shaalu's ring, which had been thrown into the Ganga by Deepak in a fit of grief. Jhonta gives it to Vidyadhar, who sells the ring to fully pay off Inspector Mishra.

Before leaving Varanasi, Devi visits Piyush's family, where his father shouts at and slaps her away. She comes to the banks of the Ganges to immerse the gift Piyush had given her on that fateful day in the hotel. Deepak, who is by the bank, notices her crying and offers her water to drink. A boatman beckons, offering both of them a ride towards Sangam. They both board the boat and strike up a conversation.

Themes[edit]

Masaan, a film about characters locked in the cycle of pain and salvation, depicts the existential problem expressed in the above phrase. While Varun Grover's screenplay has a poetic-realism feel to it, the film's mise-en-scene and other filmic aspects as sound, cinematography, and even casting choices assist to accentuate the film's key themes. 'Masaan,' a story about characters afflicted by various disasters, thematically explores concerns about suffering, agony, and redemption.[9] The title, which means crematorium, and the setting hint to the film's themes of entropy, destruction, and resurrection.[10] Masaan is set in Varanasi, the historic centre of spirituality and redemption, which is portrayed as a storehouse of antiquated values and a boiling pot of unsatisfied ambitions.[11] Two paths are intertwined, one in sorrow and the other in optimism. Devi (Richa Chadha) has an inappropriate relationship with her lover, which leads to blackmail and harassment from a police officer (Bhagwan Tiwari) as well as the quiet fury of her father Pathak (Sanjay Mishra). Even as Devi retreats into a catatonic shell, Pathak takes tiny and major risks to maintain his honour, aided by the energetic Jhonta (Nikhil Sahni), a child who works for him.[12]

Meanwhile, Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) has begun his trek out of the Varanasi cremation grounds, a caste-ordained purgatory where his Dom family has been sweeping embers over remains for years.[13]

Cast[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Masaan: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Released7 July 2015 (2015-July-07)[15]
GenreFeature film soundtrack
Length18:07
LanguageHindi
LabelZee Music Company
External audio
audio icon Audio Jukebox on YouTube

The music for Masaan's songs was composed by Indian Ocean and the lyrics were written by Varun Grover. The album received positive reviews from critics.[16]

The film contains various examples of Urdu & Hindi poetry at different junctures including works by Akbar Allahabadi, Basheer Badr, Brij Narayan Chakbast, Mirza Ghalib, Uday Prakash and Dushyant Kumar.[17] Explaining this as a conscious tribute, the film's lyricsist Varun Grover explained that he wanted to show Shaalu (played by Shweta Tripathi) as a person whose hobby is to read Hindi poetry and shaayari, as this is a common hobby of millennial and generation x youngsters in Northern India, especially when in love, but this aspect is rarely shown in Hindi films.[18][19][20]

The song ("Tu Kisi Rail Si") is based on the work of the poet Dushyant Kumar.[21]

Masaan (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[22]
No.TitleLyricsSinger(s)Length
1."Tu Kisi Rail Si"Varun Grover (Adapted from a poem by Dushyant Kumar)Swanand Kirkire03:50
2."Mann Kasturi"Sanjeev Sharma, Varun GroverAmit Kilam07:13
3."Bhor"Sanjeev SharmaAmit Kilam, Rahul Ram and Himanshu Joshi07:00

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Masaan received overwhelming critical acclaim from the mainstream media. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 13 reviews, with an average rating of 7.30/10.[23]

Calling it "a very engaging debut" by Neeraj Ghaywan, Allan Hunter in Screen Daily wrote, "Vicky Kaushal brings a gauche charm to Deepak and Richa Chadda invests the long suffering Devi with a weary, unwavering determination to move forward. Cinematographer Avinash Arun Dhaware captures some fantastic images of Banares that convey the bustling spirit of the city from the brightly lit street markets to the flurry of sparks that dot the night sky from the funeral pyres."[24] Deborah Young writing in The Hollywood Reporter described the film as "a classically poignant drama of star-crossed love" and "part of the new generation of indie films whose clear intent is to set ablaze a hidebound society’s constrictions on personal liberty."[25] Jay Weissberg in his review for the Variety magazine, however, found it "a heartfelt yet overambitious tale of class and gender inequality" with the director failing to find "ways to overcome script and editing weaknesses, resulting in a disappointing drama."[8]

Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta wrote in his National Interest column that Masaan left a deep impression on him, "get[ting] the pulse of small-town India as no other I have seen."[26] The director has woven Ganga intimately into Varun Grover's tight screenplay, Gayatri Gauri wrote in First Post adding "Several crucial moments swirl around the Ganga, beautifully shot without succumbing to visual exotica, and after you leave the cinema, they linger in your memory, like the flames dying slowly in the cremation grounds where so much of Masaan unfurls."[27]

Shubra Gupta wrote in The Indian Express, "Masaan is imbued with a sense of place and time, poetry and lyricism, and it captures the essence of Banaras, constant-yet-changeable, with felicity and feel. It also announces the arrival of new talents in its writer and director: Grover’s story is eminently worth telling, and Ghaywan tells it beautifully."[28] "Ghaywan, in his very first film, creates a deeply affecting world that devastates and uplifts at the same time, and that becomes a part of your world long after the film is over," wrote Nikhil Taneja reviewing the film for The Huffington Post.[29]

Controversy[edit]

The film released for streaming on Hotstar was found to be heavily censored which caused a controversy involving the streaming platform and the producers of the film.[30][31]

Accolades[edit]

Award Ceremony / Film Festival Date Category / Section Recipient(s) Ref.
Cannes Film Festival 13 – 24 May 2015 FIPRESCI Prize (Un Certain Regard) Neeraj Ghaywan [32][33]
Prix de l'Avenir (Un Certain Regard)
Producers Guild Film Awards 1 January 2016 Most Promising Debut Director [34]
22nd Screen Awards 8 January 2016 Most Promising Newcomer - Male Vicky Kaushal [35]
61st Filmfare Awards 15 January 2016 Best Debut Director Neeraj Ghaywan [36]
Zee Cine Awards 20 February 2016 Best Debutant Male Vicky Kaushal [37]
Best Debutant Director Neeraj Ghaywan
Best Actor in Supporting Role Sanjay Mishra
Best Actress in Supporting Role Shweta Tripathi
Best Editing Nitin Baid
63rd National Film Awards 3 May 2016 Best Debut Film of a Director Neeraj Ghaywan [38]
Stardust Awards 19 December 2016 Editor's Choice Performer of the Year (Female) Richa Chadda [39]
Best Screenplay Varun Grover
Best Lyricist

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'Masaan' - Movie Review". No. Mid-Day.com. Mid-Day. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Neeraj Ghaywan's debut film Masaan chosen for Cannes gala". India Today. 16 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  3. ^ "2015 Official Selection". Cannes. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Screenings Guide". Festival de Cannes. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  5. ^ "'Masaan' - Movie Review". No. Post.Jagran.com. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  6. ^ "'Pariyerum Perumal', 'Masaan' and 'Kaala' to be screened at New York's first Dalit Film Festival". Scroll.in. 14 February 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  7. ^ "From ZNMD To Masaan: 25 Cult Classics From Our Time We Were Fortunate To Have Witnessed". scoopwhoop. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  8. ^ a b Jay Weissberg (23 May 2015). "Cannes Film Review: Masaan". Variety. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  9. ^ Pant, Parth (12 May 2020). "How Neeraj Ghaywan's 'Masaan' amplifies its themes through Visual Storytelling". High On Films. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  10. ^ Jha, Lata (24 July 2015). "Critically acclaimed 'Masaan' sees a limited release". mint. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Straight from the ghat « Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else". Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  12. ^ Ramnath, Nandini. "Film review: The understated and compelling 'Masaan' finds life and hope in the city of corpses". Scroll.in. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  13. ^ Chatterjee, Pramit (24 July 2019). "5 Years Of 'Masaan': An Exploration Of the Tragedies Inflicted By Life". Mashable India. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  14. ^ "Masaan: A world where love rules, not money". www.dailyo.in. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Masaan (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". iTunes.
  16. ^ "Masaan - Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)". Music Aloud. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  17. ^ Lakhani, Somya (11 September 2016). "Secret Love: How Hindi poetry has become 'cool'". The Indian Express. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  18. ^ "Hindi Kavita - Kuch ban jaate hain - Uday Prakash: Varun Grover in Hindi Studio with Manish Gupta". Hindi Kavita. 25 October 2015.
  19. ^ Pal, Sanchari. "Meet the NRI Who Returned To India To Make Millions Fall in Love with Hindi Poetry". www.thebetterindia.com. The Better India. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  20. ^ Grover, Varun. "How the magic of Dushyant Kumar's poetry inspired this Bollywood lyricist". The Indian Express. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Sing along: Varun Grover decodes the lyrics to Masaan". FirstPost. 25 July 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  22. ^ "Masaan tracklist". Hungama. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Masaan". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  24. ^ Allan Hunter (20 May 2015). "'Masaan': Review". Screen Daily. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  25. ^ Deborah Young (24 May 2015). "Masaan': Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  26. ^ Shekhar Gupta (24 July 2015). "Masaan: Rise of the new middle India". Daily O. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  27. ^ Gayatri Gauri (23 July 2015). "Masaan review: Poignant, tender and beautiful, this Cannes winner is a portrait of small-town India". First Post. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  28. ^ Shubra Gupta (19 July 2015). "Masaan review: There is a tussle between what has always been, and what can be". First Post. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  29. ^ Nikhil Taneja (25 July 2015). "Masaan Review: A Fine Film Packed With Fantastic Performances". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  30. ^ Dua, Mansi (7 April 2016). "Do Not Watch Masaan on Hotstar, Warns Anurag Kashyap". TheQuint. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  31. ^ "War of words within Team 'Masaan' - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  32. ^ Rebecca Ford and Rhonda Richards (23 May 2015). "Cannes: 'Son of Saul,' 'Masaan' Take Fipresci Prizes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 May 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  33. ^ Rebeccas Ford (23 May 2015). "Cannes: 'Rams' Wins Un Certain Regard Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Winners of 11th Renault Sony Guild Awards". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  35. ^ "Screen Awards 2016: Complete List of Winners". NDTV. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  36. ^ "Full list of winners of the 61st Britannia Filmfare Awards". Filmfare. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  37. ^ "Zee Cine Awards 2016 Complete Winners List: Who won what?". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  38. ^ "63rd National Film Awards: Complete list of winners". The Economic Times. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Stardust Awards 2016: Complete List of Winners". NDTV. Retrieved 23 July 2018.

External links[edit]