To true nature of humanity lies in its vulnerability and complex set of emotions. If there’s any film that made me weep throughout, it has to be Masoom. A film that most of our generation is yet to witness and which derives its story from the simple plot that even good humans make regretful mistakes, and learning to live with that becomes difficult for not just the person who committed the mistake, but also people around him.
Masoom, a 1983 film, director by Shekhar Kapoor and based on the book ‘Man, Woman and Child’ is a coming-of-age story, starring Naseeruddin Shah (Devendra Kumar), Shabana Azmi (Indu) and Jugal Hansraj (Rahul) in the lead roles. The film revolves around DK’s family who are happy with their lives with DK, his wife Indu and two daughters, Pinky and Minni. The story unfolds when Devendra Kumar learns about his illegitimate child from his earlier affair and now that the child’s mother is dead, he is the only one who must take care of him.
With this sort of a plot, there are bound to be endless emotions and bittersweet saga that makes us involved in the moment as the story continues. As expected, the father is shocked to hear the news and does not know how to react to the situation. Given the circumstances, he has to keep him at his home with his family. Indu is devastated to see his husband’s mark of a love affair and the face of Rahul keeps her reminding the pain of the same. Rahul, the young boy, played by Jugal Hansraj is so innocent and sweet, that you actually feel bad for him with the situation and also how he is treated by Indu. Despite the fact that she dislikes him, Rahul seeks affection from all the family members. He gradually develops a bond with his father and the two daughters, which takes his loneliness away for the time being. The scene where Rahul makes a bangle box for Indu on her birthday and the expression on Indu’s face upon knowing that he made it for her, tells a thousand words. It is natural for her to have the feeling of hatred and apathy towards Rahul, but she is a mother after all, and that is clearly justified in Shabana Azmi’s performance. Also, the scene where he returns home after a long wait, the worrying Indu, despite having a feeling of hatred, couldn’t stop herself from being restless about the fact that Rahul was lost.
Naseeruddin Shah is flawless as ever, with a laid-back and sad character who is constantly struggling with two different lives and walking down a path of realisation and fatherhood. Jugal Hansraj as Rahul done a fine job of portraying the innocence and calm which script demands, in a rather subtle manner. The music by R.D Burman make the emotions come to life and the songs suit the mood of the film, sweet and soothing. The joyous “Lakdi Ki Kaathi” is reminiscent in the heart of every 80’s and 90’s kid while a sorrowful “Tujhse naaraaz nahi zindagi” has its own charm. Though the story is simple, it is a character and emotion driven film which focuses on the gray areas of a human. It gives due importance to family bonds and the innocence of a mother no matter what the situation.
All in all, this film has its heart in the right place, and this is what makes it so special. Although there have been many family drama films that have made a mark in Indian cinema, Masoom is a rather different and captivating film in an era where coming of age stories were not much prevalent.