Masaan has been received very well by the critics as well as by its target audience. It won an award for itself at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and the hype meant one more movie getting added to my watchlist. I read reviews and had idea about the plot of the movie but Masaan still surprised me.
There were two parallel running stories, one about Richa Chadda’s Devi and other about Vicky Kaushal’s Deepak. But as the movie progressed, I realised this is just one story. There are not two protagonists but just one. The protagonist is not a person but a place. And the place is Kashi. This movie is about Kashi and the holy river Ganga that flows through it. What is the history of Kashi? How much has it grown up? How it lives its life everyday? We get answers to these questions through two simple and heart touching stories. These two stories are connected to each other through river Ganga (in this movie Ganga has been used as metaphor for life).
In one scene some students visit Devi’s father, who was a retired Sanskrit teacher, to know about the history of Kashi ghat. He begins with ‘ Long time ago, Kashi was just a forest with river Ganga nurturing it. Soon men started to locate themselves near the banks of Ganga and…….’, he receives a phone call and the conversation is cut short. What could have been his next words you question. Later you will find, though the conversation ended abruptly, it stands completed . Kashi is still a forest. We see Tiwari(a police officer) taking advantage of Devi’s predicament, children are diving into river to retrieve coins just to satisfy the gambling urges of elderly people and also people’s future is in dark (like you are lost in a dense forest and you cannot find your way back). Just like animals who protect their own children while others children are food to them, we see Tiwari (police officer) care for his daughter whereas he thinks nothing of Devi’s plight. Though Kashi has become civilized but natives have their outdated culture intact.
All these things make living difficult in Kashi. Devi wants to settle in Allahbad and live her life independently. Deepak and his girlfriend Shaalu are ready to run away from their home so that they can marry and live with each other. But this is not easy to do, Devi has to pay three lakh as extortion money to the corrupt officer whereas Deepak doesn’t have a job to support his relationship. These things have been signified in a conversation where Devi’s colleague asks her ‘ do you know how many trains stop here (Kashi station)……28 and how many don’t stop here ….64…..so that means it is easy to come here but difficult to leave’.
I have mentioned earlier that Ganga is a metaphor for life, now let me explain it. On one bank of the Ganga we see ‘dom’ people cremating dead bodies(signifying death) and on the other bank, poojas and rituals are performed for auspicious occasion(signifying birth). And the two banks, birth and death are connected to each other by Ganga, meaning life. Deepak and Devi live on opposite banks but are connected and this is signified in two scenes – first, where Deepak threw the ring in the river which reached Devi’s father helping him settle his debt and second, the end scene in which Devi and Deepak meet each other.
What do you make of the ending scene where Devi and Deepak take the boat? I think it signifies the start of new life. They have started their new journey in life (Ganga). Remember Deepak telling Devi ‘Sangam ki sair do baar karni chahiye, ek baar akele aur ek baar kisi ke saath’. It means life with and without your partner. And they both start their second journey without their respective partners.
NOTE : Image has been procured through Google images.