A Fan Writes: Masaan Shows Small-Town Love Stories Beautifully

Supreme Court lawyer and film buff, Santosh Kumar, writes about his impressions after watching Masaan.

4 min read
Richa Chadha in Masaan. (Photo: Twitter/@MasaanTheFilm)

A Blog by Santosh Kumar - 

How to name two beautifully raw and edgy love stories which you know are hurtling towards the destruction. Call it Masaan (Colloquial for Shamshan – Cremation Ground).

The movie starts when a love-struck couple is found in a room by the police, who arrest them for the crime of loving and threaten them with dangerous consequences.

The boy ends his life and the girl is left to live with indignity and a possible false criminal prosecution. It hardly shocks us when we see the state and its instrumentalities being the biggest rackets of extortion.

Richa Chadha’s character gets embroiled in controversy after this <i>kaand</i>. (Photo: YouTube/<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVZzYa0MxM8">Zee Music Company</a>)
Richa Chadha’s character gets embroiled in controversy after this kaand. (Photo: YouTube/Zee Music Company)

To love before wedlock (why is it called a lock?) has always been an act of valour, courage and recklessness in Hindi heartland. For many others there, it becomes an act of lumpenness to be condoned or crushed depending on their mood. To love in these small towns is to risk your reputation, future and may be even life.

Debutant’s Expert Strokes of Camera

How painful it would be to wager everything on that love and lose it even before you have grasped it. You have surrendered yourself to somebody else and to lose that person is complete annihilation. The cremation ghats of Banaras are the symbols of such loss and death.

The river Ganga is the eternal symbol of life, love and its regeneration after every destruction. The talented debutant director takes the canvas made of Ganga and her Ghats. He has touching strokes of camera to tell us two short, painful and tender love stories headed towards death. For the director and the script writer that death is not the end. It ends as a possible beginning of something more tender ….   …..   full of fresh possibilities.

Benraas ghat as shown in the film. (Photo: YouTube/<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVZzYa0MxM8">Zee Music Company</a>)
Benraas ghat as shown in the film. (Photo: YouTube/Zee Music Company)

First encounters of love here are not the PALAT PALAT of some fantasy land delivered by a suave brand name Khan. In Masaan it is an unknown but consummate actor struggling to stitch up a sentence.

Indian Ocean’s Earthy Music

This moment of initial exploration of the other and oneself is so real in that fleeting tentativeness on the banks of the Ganga. On the other Ghat of same river are endless cremations dealing with the only permanent fact of life – death. They are executed with assembly line precision and the right to carry out the business of cremation is auctioned like any other commodity.

The claustrophobia of small town India is captured with all its suffocation and small details. And captured with equal nuance are the million mutinies (to borrow from Naipaul) - such as that of a Dom (Dalit) from burial Ghats daring to love upper caste girl and women asserting their sexuality. A flawed but beautiful piece of art emerges from this dualism of life and death, love and loss, feudal control and revolt.

The Indian Ocean team. (Photo: Twitter/@MasaanTheFilm)
The Indian Ocean team. (Photo: Twitter/@MasaanTheFilm)

Indian Ocean’s background score is movingly spiritual while singing the glory of our enduring desires. Rivers have always been used as symbols in poetry to express a variety of emotions. But the song “To Kisi Rail Si Gujarati Hai Main Kisi Pul sa Thartharata Hoon” uses rail, bridge, lock, and key to tenderly describe eternal love, longing and desire. It is quite enchanting to see these mechanical devices being invested with our most tender emotions and come alive with them.

Unknown Faces, Great Promise

Shubhra Gupta has rightly described this song to be a delightful combination of sensuality and spiritualism. Other two songs also have the beauty and permanence of Benaras and stay with us till long afterwards, along with the movie.

Young faces, great promise. (Photo: YouTube/<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVZzYa0MxM8">Zee Music Company</a>)
Young faces, great promise. (Photo: YouTube/Zee Music Company)

Kudos to this young and unknown team of Neeraj Ghaywan(Director) Varun Grower (scriptwriter), Vicky Kaushal, Swetha Tripathi, along with the familiar Richa Chadha for their skill, imagination, and execution.

They show great promise. May they touch our lives with many more such tales.

(The writer is a Supreme Court lawyer but ardently follows cinema when he is free)

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