Magazine article Screen International

'Masaan': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Masaan': Review

Article excerpt

Director Neeraj Ghaywan. India/France. 2015. 103 mins

India's inexorable rise as a 21st century global power may be undeniable but it remains a country tethered to a past firmly marked by the caste system, class division and deeply ingrained religious beliefs. Neeraj Ghaywan's very engaging debut feature Masaan confronts the tensions between ancient and modern through a Paul Haggis-style approach of intertwining tales of love, loss, grief, police corruption and crumbling moral certainties set in Benares, the holy city of the Ganges.

The involving characters and vibrant visions of Benares (Varanasi) should be a winning combination for an international audience who have embraced non-Bollywood Indian films like Udaan, The Lunchbox and The Gangs Of Wasseypur. There might even be enough charm and substance in these tales from the " real India" to tempt elements of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel crowd.

Ghaywan worked as an assistant on The Gangs Of Wasseypur and has cited director Anurag Kashyap ( a co-producer here) as an important mentor and influence on his work. He certainly shares an interest in character-driven narratives and social issues that is closer to mainstream Hollywood than typical Bollywood fare and Masaan might hold more appeal internationally than it will in India.

Masaan begins as Devi (Richa Chadda) and fellow student Piyush check into a hotel for the afternoon. They have scarcely had any time for intimacy before the police arrive, burst through the door and arrest them. …

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