"Masaan" is gold. Director Neeraj Ghaywan put his money on newcomers, and it has worked wonders for him.
Set in Varanasi, the film follows two lives – Devi (Richa Chadda) and Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) – and their tiring emotional battle with societal notions.
Fiercely independent Devi engages in a passionate sexual encounter with a boy from her workplace in the confines of a squalid hotel room. A few minutes later, cops come knocking.
Corrupt official Mishra (Bhagwan Tiwari) looks at it as an opportunity to fill his pocket. Threatening to upload the semi-nude video clip on YouTube, he later demands money from her.
For a retired Sanskrit professor, who runs a kiosk at the ghats, raising a large sum of money is sure a herculean task. Devi's father, Vidyadhar (Sanjay Mishra), to get the menacing policeman out of his hair, takes to desperate measures putting a young life in jeopardy in the process.
Meanwhile, Deepak, an engineering student, from a lower-caste family that earns its living by cremating bodies, is haplessly in love with the chirpy and feisty Shalu.
What unfolds next is a charming love story beautifully laced with endless phone calls and sealed with an awkward kiss.
The narrative is rich, and boasts of fine layers. Merged beautifully, the parallel plot-lines make the film worth the while. Also, technology coats the story well. The way it has been thrown into the lives of those residing by the holy banks of Ganges and how it impacts them is exceptional.
Richa lends raw beauty to Devi while Sanjay stuns with his acting prowess. Newbies Vicky and Shweta are both a surprise and their performances demand undivided attention.
In a nutshell, this gem cannot be missed.