Arguably the best Hindi-language film I’ve seen to date. A serious movie at heart, Masaan was a captivating experience right from ts inception. People should refrain from calling this a Bollywood movie as it is truly a class apart. The debut movie of director Neeraj Ghaywan, Masaan is a great achievement in filmmaking.
A story of four different individuals and how they are intertwined together, this is a setting that we’ve seen quite often in many good movies and Masaan here is no exception. The movie holds nothing back in showing an actual society with real people and their real problems and compromises. An uncommercial film at heart, Masaan didn’t suffer from the typical handicaps often found in Bollywood movies and there was a genuine continuity to the film and its feel. The story went deep and the characters felt convincingly real. All in a completely believable setting, the writers held nothing back when they were showing the true face of society in all its hypocrisy and backwardness. A story about real people and how they struggle every day in life, Masaan has a real connect with the audience as each one of us, in our own way, have fought similar battles in life.
Richa Chadda, the absolute star of the movie. It’s safe to say that she’s my favorite Bollywood actress, hands down. Her acting was spot-on and she gave an impeccable performance throughout the movie. She masterfully played the role of the morally-troubled girl, and in my opinion, I don’t think there is anyone else who could have played this role as gracefully as Chadda. Her name already carries huge respect in Bollywood circles and Masaan just reinforces her image for filmmakers and fans alike.
Aside from her, every other character was well written and well acted. In Bollywood, one thing that tends to miss out are the child actors, but Masaan dodged that bullet really well. Munnalal’s role as the child brat was played convincingly well and gracefully complemented the role of Sanjay Mishra, who also acted notably. Actors Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi were other notable newcomers and lead in the cast, and also performed with professional ease. In fact, every actor that we see here were at the top of their game, and this brilliant acting helped to bring the amazing writing to life.
The art direction is also worth mentioning in this movie. The cinematography in this film is comparable to many good movies, and Masaan really goes a long way capturing the heart and soul of the ghats alongside the holy town of Varanasi. Amidst all the drama and emotions, the camerawork gave the backdrop of Varanasi a voice of its own. This is motion-capture at its best.
The composition by Indian Ocean was both subtle and powerful. The music went well with the movie and wonderfully complemented the different scenarios of the movie. Even then, most of the movie was a song-less affair, and that was good in a lot of ways.
Most art movies tend to lean toward the depiction of the abstract more than necessary and end up being boring and meaningless. Masaan never had a deliberate inclination but for some, Masaan might seem to belong to that category of movie, but trust me, the truth is far from that. Masaan is in every way a tremendous achievement in filmmaking and excels in every field. This is how a story should be told, and the creative genius of the director, Neeraj Ghaywan, and the actors and everyone else deserves big praises here. Masaan is a real story of fictitious people. Like poetry in motion, Masaan is a beguiling experience and is something everyone should experience if you want to fall in love with life once again.