India’s Masaan gets loud claps, but has little novelty

When the film finished, there was really an extended applause. There clearly was similar respect for some other movies too. In a festival which has seen but very little before two decades of Indian film, the the claps, the greater is the sensation of happiness.

However, one saw almost no novelty. The movie has corruption and police violence. Lovers letting a seedy hotel room to get a little sex and becoming caught by the policemen, who call the lad a pimp as well as the girl a whore — all in the hope of taking out cash. The lad, dreading backlash that is genetic in the face of authorities risk, kills himself. The policemen are more happy, for they get some more cash and can nail the girl. The girl’s poor dad, a retired teacher who resides selling articles for puja in Varanasi on the banks of the Ganga, is humiliated and made to pay a bribe of Rs 3 lakhs, which he simply cannot manage.

A million times have been seen this type of storyline by one. Unfortunately there was nothing, nothing fascinating.

Yes, the story is low key, performances are understated. But except for Sanjay Mishra who plays with the retired teacher with dignity that is superb, the others are simply passe. Richa Chadda, who essays the tormented girl, Devi, is wooden, so too the male performers. Nevertheless, Shweta Tripathi as the girl who dies Shaalu, in the injury, has a wonderful expressive face that will take her far.

Singh does that. The display resonates having a feeling of panic, although there’s just a trace of violence. Yet, the work of Singh failed to bring the sort of interest which Ghaywan’s did. Strange is it not?

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