Masaan (transl. Crematorium; also known as Fly Away Solo in English) is a 2015 drama film directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. The directorial debut film is an Indo-French co-production produced by Drishyam Films, Macassar Productions, Phantom Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Arte France Cinema and Pathé Productions. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival winning two awards. Ghaywan previously assisted Anurag Kashyap on Gangs Of Wasseypur. The film was screened at the inaugural New York Dalit Film and Cultural Festival in 2019 along with Pariyerum Perumal (2018), Kaala (2018) and Fandry (2013). It is available on the online streaming platforms, Netflix and Hotstar.
|Directed by||Neeraj Ghaywan|
|Produced by||Drishyam Films |
|Written by||Varun Grover|
|Music by||Indian Ocean|
|Cinematography||Avinash Arun Dhaware|
|Edited by||Nitin Baid|
|Distributed by||Pathé (France)|
The first of these tells the story of college teacher Devi Pathak (Richa Chadda). The film opens with her and her student, Piyush Aggarwal, checking into a hotel room. They are interrupted during sex when policemen burst in, having been tipped off by hotel staff who suspected Devi and Piyush were indulging in "indecent behaviour". Inspector Mishra (Bhagwan Tiwari) records the barely clad Devi on his mobile phone while Piyush locks himself in the bathroom and commits suicide by slitting his wrists. Devi and her father Vidyadhar (Sanjay Mishra) are subjected to blackmail by Inspector Mishra, who demands a hefty bribe of three lakhs to hush up the matter. In desperate need of money, Vidyadhar begins to indulge in a betting game, where people bet on small boys to dive and collect the maximum number of coins from the Ganges riverbed within a specified time. He lets people bet on Jhonta (Nikhil Sahni), an orphan who works for him after Jhonta volunteers himself for the game. Meanwhile, Devi has to switch jobs due to the stigma associated with her having pre-marital sex. She eventually gets a government job in the railways in Varanasi, but news regarding her pre-marital sexual indulgence reaches there as well.
The second narrative concerns Deepak Kumar (Vicky Kaushal), a Varanasi boy from the Dom community whose family works in cremation ghats by burning funeral pyres. Deepak wants to transcend the restrictions of a casteist society. He studies civil engineering at a polytechnic college where he meets and falls in love with Shaalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi), a high caste Hindu girl. They start meeting each other and during a trip to Allahabad on the banks of the Ganges, they share an intimate moment. Back in Varanasi, Deepak tells her about his caste and the work he does burning corpses. Shaalu remains firm and tells him that she will be with him even if her parents refuse. She asks him to focus on his placements and get a job, while she reaffirms her commitment to him.
However, unfortunately, during a pilgrimage trip with her family, Shaalu dies in a ghastly bus accident. Her body with those of other victims ends up at the same cremation ground where Deepak's family works. Deepak is shattered on seeing her dead body and loses all purpose in life. He retains her ring as a souvenir. Deepak is eventually able to overcome his grief and discards Shaalu's ring in the Ganges. He gains a placement as a civil engineer in Allahabad. Later that same ring is picked up by Jhonta who loses consciousness underwater while collecting coins. He regains consciousness in hospital and gives the ring to a remorseful Vidyadhar, who decides to stop playing with Jhonta's life. He sells the ring and is finally able to pay off Inspector Mishra.
Marred by the parochial mindset of people regarding her situation, Devi leaves Varanasi and joins a course in Allahabad University. She comes to the banks of the Ganges to immerse the gift Piyush had given her on that fateful day in the hotel. Deepak, who is by the bank, notices her crying and offers her water to drink. A boatman beckons, offering both of them a ride towards Sangam. They both board the boat and strike up a conversation.
- Sanjay Mishra as Vidyadhar Pathak
- Richa Chadda as Devi Pathak
- Vicky Kaushal as Deepak Kumar
- Vineet Kumar as Dom Raja
- Shweta Tripathi as Shaalu Gupta
- Pankaj Tripathi as Sadhya
- Shree Dhar Dubey as KK
- Bhagwan Tiwari as Inspector Mishra
- Nikhil Sahni as Jhonta
- Satya Kam Anand as Vikram Mallah
- Niharica Raizada in a special appearance
Songs and MusicEdit
|Masaan: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||7 July 2015|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Label||Zee Music Company|
The film contains various examples of Hindi poetry at different junctures including works by Akbar Allahabadi, Basheer Badr, Chakbast, Mirza Ghalib, Uday Prakash and Dushyant Kumar. Explaining this as a conscious tribute, the film's lyrics writer Varun Grover explained that he wanted to show Shaalu (played by Shweta Tripathi) as a person whose hobby is to read Hindi poetry and shaayari, as this is a common hobby of millenial and generation x youngsters in Northern India, especially when in love, but this aspect is rarely shown in Hindi films.
|Masaan (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|1.||"Tu Kisi Rail Si"||Varun Grover (Adapted from a poem by Dushyant Kumar)||Swanand Kirkire||03:50|
|2.||"Mann Kasturi"||Sanjeev Sharma, Varun Grover||Amit Kilam||07:13|
|3.||"Bhor"||Sanjeev Sharma||Amit Kilam, Rahul Ram and Himanshu Joshi||07:00|
Masaan received overwhelming critical acclaim from the mainstream media. Calling it "a very engaging debut" by Neeraj Ghaywan, Allan Hunter in Screen Daily wrote, "Vicky Kaushal brings a gauche charm to Deepak and Richa Chadda invests the long suffering Devi with a weary, unwavering determination to move forward. Cinematographer Avinash Arun Dhaware captures some fantastic images of Banares that convey the bustling spirit of the city from the brightly lit street markets to the flurry of sparks that dot the night sky from the funeral pyres." Deborah Young writing in The Hollywood Reporter described the film as "a classically poignant drama of star-crossed love" and "part of the new generation of indie films whose clear intent is to set ablaze a hidebound society’s constrictions on personal liberty." Jay Weissberg in his review for the Variety magazine, however, found it "a heartfelt yet overambitious tale of class and gender inequality" with the director failing to find "ways to overcome script and editing weaknesses, resulting in a disappointing drama."
Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta wrote in his National Interest column that Masaan left a deep impression on him, "get[ting] the pulse of small-town India as no other I have seen." The director has woven Ganga intimately into Varun Grover’s tight screenplay, Gayatri Gauri wrote in First Post adding "Several crucial moments swirl around the Ganga, beautifully shot without succumbing to visual exotica, and after you leave the cinema, they linger in your memory, like the flames dying slowly in the cremation grounds where so much of Masaan unfurls."
Shubra Gupta wrote in The Indian Express, "Masaan is imbued with a sense of place and time, poetry and lyricism, and it captures the essence of Banaras, constant-yet-changeable, with felicity and feeling. It also announces the arrival of new talents in its writer and director: Grover’s story is eminently worth telling, and Ghaywan tells it beautifully." "Ghaywan, in his very first film, creates a deeply affecting world that devastates and uplifts at the same time, and that becomes a part of your world long after the film is over," wrote Nikhil Taneja reviewing the film for The Huffington Post.
|Award Ceremony / Film Festival||Date||Category / Section||Recipient(s)||Ref.|
|Cannes Film Festival||13 – 24 May 2015||FIPRESCI Prize (Un Certain Regard)||Neeraj Ghaywan|||
|Prix de l'Avenir (Un Certain Regard)|
|Producers Guild Film Awards||1 January 2016||Most Promising Debut Director||Neeraj Ghaywan|||
|22nd Screen Awards||8 January 2016||Most Promising Newcomer - Male||Vicky Kaushal|||
|Filmfare Award||15 January 2016||Best Debut Director||Neeraj Ghaywan|||
|Zee Cine Awards||20 February 2016||Best Debutant Male||Vicky Kaushal|||
|Best Debutant Director||Neeraj Ghaywan|
|Best Actor in Supporting Role||Sanjay Mishra|
|Best Actress in Supporting Role||Shweta Tripathi|
|Best Editing||Nitin Baid|
|National Film Award||3 May 2016||Best Debut Film of a Director||Neeraj Ghaywan|||
|Stardust Awards||19 December 2016||Editor's Choice Performer of the Year (Female)||Richa Chadda|||
|Best Screenplay||Varun Grover|
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