The year in review

Best of Bollywood 2015 countdown: ‘Masaan’

Neeraj Ghaywan’s sensitive debut is about the ebb and flow of desires and ambitions in Varanasi.

Neeraj Ghaywan’s sensitive Varanasi-set debut is next on our countdown of the best Hindi films made in 2015.

Masaan

Neeraj Ghaywan’s first feature, written by lyricist and stand-up comic Varun Grover, is set in the ancient city of life and death. Chance, the Ganga river, and railway tracks all plays their part in the stories of Deepak (Vicky Kaushal), from the Dalit Dom caste that has raked coals over corpses at the ghats for millennia, and Devi (Richa Chadha), a computer institute employee whose first brush with love and sex goes horribly wrong. Deepak falls and rises in love, but Devi’s journey takes longer. Harassed and shamed by a venal blackmailing police officer who claims that he possesses a sex tape of her tryst with her lover, Devi folds into herself. It takes a convivial colleague, Sadhya (Pankaj Tripathi), to break the ice and make her re-assess her relationship with her father (Sanjay Mishra). Sadhya’s tribute to the pleasures of kheer is one of Masaan’s most brilliant moments.

Play

Tripathi, one of Hindi cinema’s most gifted and dependable actors, is perfectly cast as Sadhya. Ghaywan had met Tripathi on the sets of Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, on which Ghaywan was an assistant director. The sequence was more comic in tone, but was trimmed for the final cut, the filmmaker said. “Sadhya is a happy loner,” Ghaywan said. “Completely unaware of how lonely his life is and yet, relishing the goodness of life, he is the catalyst who brings change in Devi’s life. Varun wrote Sadhya based on a character from Vinod Kumar Shukla’s novel Deewar Mein Ek Khirkee Rahti Thi.” The movie is packed with several references to Hindi literature, and the eagle-eyed viewer might spot Sadhya reading Shukla’s book in the movie.

The conversation between Devi and Sadhya is quiet and ordinary, yet profound, like so many of the exchanges between various characters. “Sadhya is the one who purges Devi’s turmoil that is inside of her, making her reassess her equation with her own father,” Ghaywan said. “Throughout the film I wanted the dialogue to be spoken in a conversational manner, the way it was written. I didn’t want the philosophy or the character’s motive to be spelt out and attract attention, but just happen organically.”

There was more to Sadhya’s character than was included in Masaan’s final version. “A scene that is there in the deleted scenes on the DVD shows him talking to Devi on a scooter,” Ghaywan said. “He reveals his urge to someday just get on a train and get off an a random station where he can get a whiff of good tea. He can’t do this now as he is tied to his father and his job. Devi motivates him to do it. One day Sadhya calls Devi while she is in Allahabad at a lecture. He tells her that he has taken that train and it motivates Devi to do something that she has been wanting to do – go and meet Piyush’s parents.” Piyush is Devi’s unfortunate lover, with whom she gets caught in a tawdry hotel room by a police unit. “All this was removed in the film because of time,” Ghaywan said. “Also, in the edit, I wanted Devi’s trigger to finally meet Piyush’s parents to be more internal rather than external. She has a sense of dignity that is dear to her. While writing, we knew it is not going to be an easy character to fathom. We didn’t want a perfect arc for her (like it is for Deepak) or a defined set of character traits. In grief, your inner soul is in contradiction with what the mind wants. Devi had to be uneven, unfathomable and instinctive.”

For previous entries in our countdown to the best Hindi films of the year, see here, here and here.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.

Play

To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.