The moment, when the news broke out that Neeraj Ghaywan’s film ‘Masaan’ has got the standing ovation at the Cannes film festival, all the film buffs were waiting for the movie to be released in India. It’s a rare moment for an Indian film to get 5 minutes of uninterrupted standing ovation full of echoes of clap in a packed movie hall that too from the elite people of world cinema. Masaan is a movie which is set in the backdrop of Varanasi and the city is also portrayed as a character in the film. It’s an Indo-French collaboration. The movie has been produced by Phantom films in which Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Madhu Mantena and Vikramaditya Motwane are equal partners.
The movie did not just win people’s heart at Cannes but also won two awards in the ‘Un Certain Regards’ category at the festival. Neeraj Ghaywan was once an assistant director and had worked as one of the assistants in Anurag Kashyap’s film Gangs of Wasseypur part 1 and 2. He had also made two short films named ‘Shor’ and ‘Epiphany’. Neeraj was uncertain about his passion for filmmaking when his parents did not acknowledge his decision of resigning from a well-paid job and venture into filmmaking but then Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane motivated him to stay in the film fraternity and then the idea stuck upon his mind of making a film on the Dom community who work at the crematorium space at the ghats of Varanasi.
A guy, who was short of confidence to pursue his dream has now left everyone spellbound through his film. The film revolves around the issue of life and death, and that is the reason it has been shot in Varanasi because the city is known for it’s connection to salvation. The legends say that if anyone wants to experience eternity then he must come to Varanasi, and as Mark Twain quoted “”Varanasi” is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.
The film stars Richa Chadha, Sanjay Mishra, Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi in titular roles. The film is produced by Drishyam Films, Phantom Films, Macassar Productions, and Sikhya Entertainment. The movie is written by Varun Grover who is also the lyricist of the film. The music of the film is composed by the famous band the Indian Ocean. It is a coincidence that when Neeraj Ghaywan was not sure about his stint in filmmaking, he used to hear the songs of the film ‘Udaan’ which was directed by his friend Vikramaditya Motwane who is also the producer of the film and while making ‘Udaan’ Vikramaditya Motwane used to hear the song ‘Bhor’ which was composed by the Indian Ocean and in this film another version of the song ‘Bhor’ has been included.
It’s very ironical that two independent occurrences in the same country are contrasting with one another. In one event, in which the government of India is literally mocking this medium of art called filmmaking by appointing someone who does not hold enough credentials to be on the reputed position of chairmanship of a prestigious film institute like FTII, and in another event, a film set in India, shot in India, speaks about India, and discusses the diversity of the country is being applauded in an international film event. So these are two different sides of the same coin.
Speaking about the film. The film is doing really well all across the country. It has already entered it’s the third week in many megacities. A great positive hype was generated after the film’s triumph at Cannes. A couple of special screenings were arranged for the people from the film fraternity. Most of the people in the film industry acknowledged the film. Javed Akhtar was so impressed with the Film that he said this is the best film in the recent times. Rajkumar Hirani was Bowled over by the writing of the film. Amir Khan was also seen appreciating the performance and the direction of the film. So everyone was seen supporting the film after the screening.
So many films have been shot on the ghats of Varanasi, but none of them have been able to capture the city in its true essence. Massan exposes the harsh reality of ghats and of our culture. The fear of Personal life will be made public, is being used as a part of misuse of power. A human being from low caste is in love with someone from the upper caste is asked to ponder on the outcomes and the atrocities, they will face if they get married. The English translation of Masaan means crematorium, so the film set around the ghats where they cremate people.
The poetic style of storytelling of Neeraj Ghaywan in the film is very staggering. The moving visuals of the film are beautifully captured. There are some breathtaking scenes in the film. When Sanjay Mishra gets up in between his lunch to beat up his daughter looks very spontaneous and surreal. The writer of the film Varun Grover has done a fantastic job. The scene where Sanjay Mishra breaks down in the hospital on realizing his mistake will definitely melt your heart. Pankaj Tripathi as ‘Sadhya Ji’ is remarkable in the film. Child actor Nikhil Sahni as ‘Jhonta’ has given a marvelous performance in the film. The supporting actors are the backbone of the film.
We hope that such films be made frequently in the Indian cinema. It’s good to see that films like ‘Masaan’, ‘Udaan’ are recovering their money back. People are actually stepping out from their houses to watch such kind of films in theatres. It’s a very positive sign for all the filmmakers in India, that the audience in India is changing and is accepting films that is forcing them to contemplate on the film.
The sensibilities of the people in India are undergoing a positive change which will open doors for many aspiring filmmakers.