Indie film Masaan wows Cannes audience, gets 5-minute long standing ovation

FP Staff

May 20, 2015 19:14:26 IST

The poster boys of Indian indie might be stumbling awkwardly (directors Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap, we're looking at you), but our cinema is doing fine, thank you very much. Yesterday, Masaan, directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and received a five-minute long standing ovation at the end.

Masaan is Ghaywan's first film and is set in Varanasi. The film follows the stories of a young man from a low caste, an orphan who collects coins from the river bed, a receptionist at a coaching centre and her father, who is a pandit. The young man falls in love with a high-caste girl. The receptionist finds herself in the middle of a sex scandal. The pandit fights taboos and the orphan finds a father figure. What this disparate lot have in common is they are misfits in the world of small-town moralities.


A screen grab from the trailer.

The film's cast includes Sanjay Mishra, Richa Chadha, Shweta Tripathi and Vicky Kaushal. Aside from Mishra and Chadha, these aren't familiar names and faces, which is how Ghaywan wanted it. An unstarry cast meant lower costs and better performances. "I was not keen on making a film with stars," he said in an interview to IBN Live. "A star comes with a certain image which is hard to brush off and my film has a lot of naked reality which I wasn't sure if a star's presence could justify."

Ghaywan describes Masaan as a "story of escape". He said in an interview, "It is about the people living in small towns in India and their attempt of escaping the conventional mindset, the rigid social structure." The idea of Masaan came to Ghaywan years ago, when someone told him about the Dom community, which carries out cremations and is therefore considered outcast.

It took three years and partnering with lyricist, writer and stand-up comedian Varun Grover to complete Masaan's script. Intent upon being faithful to the reality of Varanasi, rather than depicting it as an exotic locale, Ghaywan spent four months in the city with Grover to understand and absorb its sights and sounds.

Initial reports indicate that Masaan has been widely appreciated by the crowd at Cannes. Indian independent cinema has had a good run in Cannes in recent times. Un Certain Regard has shone the spotlight on films like Ashim Ahluwalia's Miss Lovely and Kanu Behl's Titli (which is yet to be released in India). One of the early stops for The Lunchbox's record-breaking journey was at Cannes, where it was screened at International Critics' Week and got a standing ovation. Let's hope Masaan follows in The Lunchbox's footsteps.

You can watch Masaan's trailer here:

Updated Date: May 20, 2015 19:17 PM