The Soul Of Masaan
Masaan (2015) is the directorial debut of Neeraj Ghaywan. It is a film talking about deep-rooted prejudices of class and caste. It is critically acclaimed winning massively at the Cannes Film Festival. Masaan may have not done well in the mainstream cinema but it is the beauty of Ghaywan’s direction, the raw portrayal of characters and the issue of caste and discrimination which make this film a beautiful piece of art. It is true that films based on realistic notions of life do not make well in monetary terms as a Salman Khan Movie would do. However, it is an important work undertaken for it also serves as a means of the educational piece to understand Caste.
Even to review this film is an articulate matter for there are underlying themes and tones which the director has fitted. The film revolves around the lives of four characters; Devi Pathak (Richa Chadha), Deepak Kumar (Vicky Kaushal), Shalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi) and Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra). Masaan shows a parallel between the lives of Devi and Deepak who belong to the lower caste communities. Devi’s father Vidyadhar works on the ghats of Varanasi where he sells items for religious ceremonies. Deepak’s family belongs to the Dom community who burn and manage corpses. The thing about Masaan is its characters who beautifully show the reality through them on screen.
Devi owns her sexuality and makes no apologies about how she chooses to live her life. Despite the death of her lover and constant harassment by the police, she tries to move on and find her purpose. Her father Vidyadhar tries to pay off the police so as to not tarnish Devi’s life further. The father is submerged in debt yet stays close to the daughter, being there for her in a tough time. The purpose is lost and she mourns.
Deepak is an ambitious boy belonging to the Dom community who are funeral workers. Deepak is pursuing engineering so as to not fade into the world of his community. He falls in love with Shalu who is an upper-caste woman. Shalu is unaware of Deepak’s identity. Moreover, Deepak is aware of the cloud that surrounds him and his world. He is aware of the social dynamics that are followed. In a scene, when Shalu inquires about his where he lives, he lashes out and opens up about his place of residence, his caste and profession. He does not lash out at Shalu but himself for he is bound by rigid social norms which follow him everywhere. Tragedy strikes wherein Shalu loses her life and Deepak performs the funeral practice. He retains her priced ring as her last memory. Deepak mourns taking to alcohol and breaks down completely and shattered after the loss.
“Yeh Dukh Kaahe Khatam Nahi Hota Bey!” - Deepak Kumar
In closure, the two parallels meet at one point. To meet their purposes, both Devi and Deepak throw the gift given by her lover in the beginning and the ring respectively, in the river. This signifies closure, the need to move on and purpose. The ring is later found by Vidyadhar after Jhota dives into the river and gives it to him. He uses the ring to pay off his debt with the police.
After this, both the characters take the boat and move towards Sangam.
Masaan literally means ‘Fly Away Solo’. Both the characters are torn by tragedies and loss, however, by the end, they realise the purpose and dynamics and move towards life. To call it a tragic love story reduces for what Masaan stands for. It is beyond the usual love stories. It is an awakening.