Directed by Niraj Ghyawan and written by Varun Grover, Masaan is a film that delves deep into the affair between life and death. With a backdrop of Varanasi, we see the life of the characters taking a sharp arc, which can come as both shocking and heartbreaking. Though all the characters are flawsome, today we are going to analyse the character of Devi.
When we meet her we see a naïve girl exploring her understanding of sex and sexuality. A phenomenon which should be normal in our society but it is an issue that is considered a taboo. This belief of the society leads her in a situation where she has to grapple with loss and grief along with blackmail by the torchbearer of society. Devi visits a local hotel with her lover. They are amidst the act of love when police raids the place. Scared about the shame he might have to handle, the boy commits suicide. It is hard to fathom how Devi must have felt losing her lover just after making love to him for the first time. We see Devi breakdown and go numb hearing the death of the boy. The whirl of emotions and thoughts just come to a standstill within her.
But the bold girl that Devi is, she did not bend down and lose herself in all the chaos that was to ensue. When the Police Inspector asked her what was she doing with a boy in a hotel, without hesitation she clearly said, “Jigyasa mitane.”
After the incident, she gets calls from unknown numbers and from work colleagues with obscene requests. Devi fights. Devi does not cower. Devi, just like her name, possesses the power to vanquish the evil. She dashes to her work place, takes her belongings and dangerously warns her harassers to mind their own business. Women are not allowed on the cremation ground. With heavy heart and tears in her eyes, Devi watches her lover from afar on his last rites. In that scene, we can see both a vulnerable and determined side of her.
Coming from a humble background doesn’t leave her with a choice to move to another city. On one hand, her father bows his head down in shame and on other hand, Devi walks with pride. She believes in herself and the fact that she did nothing wrong. Her father coming from an age where female’s sexual desires are sidelined, he does not understand his daughter and even quarrels with her. In one such fights, Devi blames her father for the death of her mother to explain him how the boy, her lover, did not die because of her. She stills carries a bit of guilt though. To support her father financially for paying the money blackmailed by the police inspector, she starts working for Railway department. Swinging on the swing of guilt and grief.
The city of Varanasi, the ghats, the streets haunt her, bind her to her past. She knows if she wants to get free and find peace she needs to get away from the small place where she had grown up. She moves to Lucknow. For the last time she bids adieu to the boy she loved. A few drops of tears roll down while she lets go of the gift he had given to her on that fateful day. Life and death might be entangled with each other but all we can do is let it flow.