Masaan is about control over one’s sexuality, young love, a father’s fear for his daughter’s respectability in society, a young man and a young women’s fight to break the stereotypes their society and caste put upon them and much more. I saw the movie Masaan on a whim one night expecting to enjoy it but instead I was a heaving mass of emotions at the end of it. I did not just enjoy the movie, I lived the movie.
Masaan: The Story
There are two parallel stories running in the movie which is based in Varanasi. Devi (Richa Chadha) is a modern girl caught in the throes of a narrow minded society. India has a long history of denying that a girl can and does have sexual desires. Devi is a middle class girl but has been breaking barriers all her life. She worked hard to get an education which enabled her to earn for herself thus making her financially independent.
She also decided to have intercourse with a young man she liked because she wanted to, not caring that it was a taboo to do so in a society where sexuality of a woman is accepted and recognized only after marriage. Any sexual desires on her part before getting hitched permanently to a life partner are considered immoral. She is caught in a compromising position by the Police but she does not compromise her dignity.
The behaviour of the Police, especially the Inspector is deplorable. They not only cause the suicide of the young man due to their mental torture, the Inspector uses his death and the video they have taken to blackmail the girl and her father into paying him a bribe.
Devi’s father is a simple man who has a shop on the Ghat. His love for his daughter is palpable even when he is ‘ashamed’ of her act . He does not abandon her but tries his best to pay the bribe to the Inspector to save his daughter’s face in the society. It reduces him to condone what he previously thought was a lamentable game by taking part in betting which child will be able to get the most coins from the bottom of Ganga. The children are like performing monkeys who are being used to abet gambling.
The other story is about Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) who although born in the lower caste Dom community wants to break free of their age old job of burning bodies at the Ganga ghat and make something more of himself. He is studying civil engineering and is in his final year when he meets and falls in love with Shalu Gupta ( Shweta Tripathi) who is from a upper caste. She accepts him as he is and their love story is very fresh, real and heart warming but unfortunately it ends in tragedy when Deepak comes across her dead body while working on the ghat one day.
Both Devi and Deepak grieve deeply for their loss but put on a brave front and move forward determinedly. The city of Varanasi with all its customs and traditions and also for the loss it represents to them both proves to be stifling for them. They both end up moving to Allahabad where the last scene of the movie shows them travelling to Sangam together. The end is a neat tying of loose knots where two people unknowingly are bound by the tragedy of their lives and whose life has come a full circle.
Masaan captures the pulse of Indian city life and middle class mentality beautifully. The mark of a true film is when the characters come alive and both Devi and Deepak were alive for me. I could feel their joys, sorrow, pain and even strength. This movie is not just about breaking restrictions, it is about learning to live with consequences with our dignity and sense of worth still intact. Masaan taught me a lot, made me think a lot and touched a deep place in my heart which is forever in conflict with what I think is right and what society expects of me.
Did you watch Masaan yet? It’s one timeless favorite for sure!