You think love can overcome a stereotypical caste system in a conservative society? If so, you will be forced to reconsider your idea after watching the 2015 Indo-French drama Masaan.
The film portrays how reality overwhelms the fantasies and dreams of two different people and confines them to a circle where they are bound to limit their love. Masaan makes it difficult to distinguish the film's scenes from reality.
The word "Massan" means cremation. When a person dies, his last rites are performed in the crematorium. But within the difficult realities of society, the protagonist of the film had already performed this "masaan" several times in his mind - even before going to the crematorium, by accepting the inequality, caste system and poverty he was born into.
The movie opens with a young girl named Debi (Richa Chandra), who is caught red-handed by the police in a vulnerable situation with a boy. Unable to cope with the stress, the boy goes to the bathroom and commits suicide.
In the next scene, the girl and her father (Sanjay Mishra) are stuck in a helpless situation where the police starts blackmailing them with a murder case.
The immeasurable sufferings of Debi and her father are brilliantly fragmented throughout the movie. Despite being a priest, her father is consistently deprived of his dignity and honour.
After this incident, he starts suffering from terrible mental stress. His life becomes very difficult due to social reasons. The equation of reality is a bit different for lower-class people because one mistake is enough to make life hell.
Debi is an educated and surprisingly independent woman who tries to overcome her misfortune by starting a new job.
Aside from this, another story is about a young boy called Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) who wants to break his shackles of being a lower-caste youth by becoming a civil engineer and dreams of marrying an upper-caste girl even though his family members do funeral work at the Ghat of Varanasi.
Being a lower caste man, the difference between his expectation and reality tells us the horrible truth of life. Deepak's dialogue: "Yeh dukh kaahe khatam nahi hota?", which loosely translates to: "When does this grief ever end?", explains how much pain and sorrow he has endured in his life.
Another tremendous thing to look forward to in the movie is its portrayal of the Ganga and the banks of Varanasi. Tranquil shots of Vanaras take this movie to a unique dimension. Two stories somehow connect in the placid river of Varanasi and about to start a new life at last.
Neeraj Ghaywan is the director of this film who intertwines two storylines full of emotions. It is his first work as a director. He has previously worked as a second unit director in Anurag Kashyap's films Gangs of Wasseypur and Ugly.
This is his first occasion to showcase his outstanding talent and he has done so quite successfully, receiving several national and international awards for Masaan.
Masaan received an overwhelming response from critics, mainstream media and audiences with 22 wins and eight nominations. The movie won the International Federation of Film Critics prize in the "Un Certain Regard" (In some perspective) category at the Cannes Film Festival, 2015. It also received an 88 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes with an 8+ rating in IMDB.
With excellent cinematography, location and great storytelling, this movie has become a story that correlates with reality. The wholesome acting of Vicky Kaushal, Richa Chandra, Pankaj Tripathi and other talented actors drives the screenplay so fruitfully that it could easily capture the attention of the audience.
Unlike a commercial movie, Masaan creates such an impact in the minds of the audience that they can easily relate to each character and understand the suffering and pain of losing loved ones.