In Varanasi, on the banks of River Ganga, the lives that locals live seem reasonably simple. The age-old shackles of caste still hold the people to perform what are believed to be duties even if it means spending one's life amidst death and discomfort. However, digging deeper reveals the loneliness and societal binding that lurk beneath, that the seemingly innocent and straightforward people are not spared from the cruelties of existence.
Whether it is the story of Devi Pathak who pays the price for seeking love with desperation or Deepak, whose newfound love for Shalu induces the unprecedented pain of separation, the narrative of Masaan manages to expose the horrors of life and keeps us questioning the ways of the world. It is painful to watch Devi, who is not even allowed to grieve her partner's loss, as she is drowned in the shame of having sinned and the guilt of having to watch him die. The themes of loneliness, lovelessness, desperation, and shame are all etched smoothly into the tale that takes its own time to unfold. Deepak and Shalu's love story is initially a sweet relief from all the tension that Devi's story brings. But eventually, the suddenness of the grief overpowers the subtle sadness of their other story too. The film explores concepts of hope and love by emphasising the beauty of these things and exposing the inevitable sorrow that follows. The tale reminds us that the romanticism that keeps us alive also scars us and leaves us broken.
The film moved me very deeply and informed me once again that the world needs empathy more than anything else. It showed me how our failure to be sensitive to those around us makes us part of the reason for the sorrows that the world has to offer. What truly makes Masaan special to me is the ending, which I can only compare to a sweet smile after a flood of tears. The visual of Deepak and Devi finding company in each other on the boat ride fills my heart up every time. After all, in an increasingly lonely and greedy world, perhaps some passive company is all the solace we need.