Masaan (2015): The Crematorium for Social Stigma

Masaan (2015) is arguably one of the finest Bollywood films I’ve watched. Belonging to the cadres of The Lunchbox (2013) and Ship of Theseus (2012), this film bestows upon its viewers the varied joys that meaningful cinema has to offer. I was completely overwhelmed and flabbergasted by the sheer innocence of the characters, the bold story line that ventures into unexplored social stigmas and the natural, original, thought-provoking dialogues.

The cast has no big stars and it is directed by debutant Director Neeraj Ghaywan yet it was received with much critical acclaim and a standing ovation during its screening at Cannes, which most big banner films don’t get. Not only that, it also swept two awards at the august Cannes Film Festival and a Filmfare back home.

Without giving out any spoilers, I may say that the injustice meted out to Devi, one of the three main characters, is especially poignant. The beautifully natural depiction of Shaalu and Deepak’s love story is touching and Deepak’s reaction to the loss is heart-rending “Saala ye dukh khatam hi nahi hota be (Why does this pain not come to an end).”

Accolades to Varun Grover who stirred such genius script, dialogues and lyrics for the equally good songs in the cauldrons of his mind.

A stanza from the Ghazal ‘Main Jise Odhta Bichhata Hoon’ by Dushyant Kumar is also artistically woven into the script. I instantly fell in love with these lines which goes like this:

तू किसी रेल सी गुज़रती है (Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai) 
मैं किसी पुल्ल सा थरथराता हूँ (Mein kisi pul sa thartharata hoon)
एक जंगल है तेरी आँखों में (Ek jungle hai teri aankhon mein)
मैं जहाँ राह भूल जाता हूँ (Mein jahan rah bhool jata hoon)

I tried translating it into English:

You walk past like a train, 
I quiver like a bridge, 
Your eyes contain the depths of a forest,
In them I lose my path

There’s another stanza from a poem by Bashir Badr recited in the film which I loved:

Sitaron ko aankhon mein mehfooz rakhna
Badi der tak raat hi raat hogi
Musafir hai hum bhi Musafir ho tum bhi
Kisi mod par phir mulakat hogi

The music by Indian Ocean is both soulful and powerful. There are three songs and all of them are gems.

If you are form a part of that small group of discerning audience who can appreciate meaningful cinema, please give two hours of your life to this film at my request, I’m sure you will not regret it. Masaan is truly a beguiling experience. Something everyone should experience.

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