Masaan (Fly Away Solo)Cannes Film Festival 2015
Present-day India is a country caught between modernity and tradition. Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) falls in love with a girl from a different caste, while Devi (Richa Chadda) commits an offence that threatens to bring shame and scandal to her home, forcing her father to acquiesce to the demands of a corrupt policeman.
Neeraj Ghaywan’s directorial debut Masaan is a revelation. While the stereotypes usually perpetuated by film are of “poverty and beautiful landscapes” (as described by Ghaywan), Masaan depicts an India “on the brink of change”, but still shackled by the chains of tradition.
In making this film, Ghaywan exposes Indian society to great scrutiny, but insists that his aim was to tell a story and not to make a documentary; his focus lies primarily in the relationships between characters. The themes of honour, love, and morality broached by Masaan stir a sense of indignation on Deepak and Devi’s behalf who, despite being educated and open-minded individuals, find themselves stifled by religious and societal limitations: one loves a girl he cannot marry, while the other dreams of leaving home and expanding her horizons.
Masaan may be regarded as an agent in the movement for progress, but it still retains a faint hint of nostalgia. Filmed on location in the holy city of Benares, on the bank of the Ganges, the magnificent, ancient architecture running along the river cannot help but evoke the splendour of an earlier era and a certain wistfulness at the thought of its gradual disappearance.
Honest and immensely moving, there is a good reason Masaan received a standing ovation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Masaan (Fly Away Solo) does not yet have a UK release date.
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