While many times, we have criticised and blamed Bollywood for giving us regressive, sexist and junk movies in name of entertainment. In times when the success of movies is purely judged by their box-office collections, it is sad how good movies are overshadowed by the masala movies.
In recent times, the Hindi film industry has produced many movies that may have earned a huge amount at the box office, but have hardly created any impact! Neither they inspired us nor they made us applaud the makers. These movies were either remakes or dependent on bankable stars or promotional songs. But in the midst of such movies, there were some movies, that were completely dependent on the story and actors’ sincerity. One such honest movie is Masaan! Much before Vicky Kaushal was a household name, his movie, Masaan touched millions of hearts.
Masaan is a story of loss and pain that comes with it. The movie focuses on how we learn to live with such pain and find ways to survive it but never really get over it. Directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, the film won multiple accolades around the world and was a treat for cinema lovers.
Masaan focuses on two parallel stories. One is of Devi (played by Richa Chadha), who is caught having pre-marital sex in a hotel room. The man involved with her, commits suicide immediately and while she’s left alone to deal with the after-effects. Her father Pathak ji (played by Sanjay Mishra), is struggling hard to arrange the bribe so the case can be dealt with and is toying with his moral boundaries.
The other story is of Deepak (played by Vicky Kaushal). Deepak is a lower-caste boy and his family has been working at Varanasi’s cremation ghaats for generations. Beyond the caste barriers, Deepak falls in love with Shalu (played by Shweta Tripathi). However, unfortunately, during a pilgrimage trip with her family, Shaalu dies in a ghastly bus accident. Her body, along with those of other victims, ends up at the same cremation ground where Deepak’s family works. Deepak is shattered on seeing her dead body and loses all purpose in life.
What makes this story impactful is how these seemingly simple stories converge poetically in the end. The film is written in layers and intercuts between different stories. But, as the stories progress, the audience realizes how the superficial story is just the topmost layer of the narrative.
This high-impact movie focuses on many prejudices. Devi’s story deals with the stigma that is associated with pre-marital sex. While she is made to feel guilty about her sexual encounter, all she can think about is Piyush, who gave his life to avoid the stigma, that was ruining Devi’s life now. To protect herself from society’s hurtful judgements, Devi had to switch her job and eventually her city.
While Devi’s life is about dealing with the shame because of the stigma of pre-marital sex, her father’s story is a reminder of how desperation can force humans to many dark places within us. When he puts a little boy’s life is put at risk, he realizes what kind of monster he has become.
And, Deepak’s finding out about Shalu’s death is one of the heart-wrenching scenes. With the loss of love of his life, Deepak has lost all his will to succeed in life, but then eventually the truth of life dawns upon him and he picks himself up.
While Masaan makes you feel so many emotions at the same time, it leaves you feeling empty. It’s the result of fantastic film-making that even with an unhappy ending, we find ways to move on.
It is not surprising how the audience finds their own pain in the story of Devi and Deepak. How circumstances have changed the life of Devi and Deepak forever! How Devi and Deepak after acknowledging and accepting their pain, are making attempts to move on! While we may hate senseless Hindi movies but whenever we get a chance to watch a movie like Masaan, our happiness covers our disappointment and we feel proud of Bollywood!
We hope Bollywood will soon realize that we need movies like Masaan to move society as well as the movie industry forward!
*All images are screengrabs of respective movie.