Monday, May 12, 2014

Mastram

Cast: Rahul Bagga (Raja Ram), Kapil Dubey, Tara Alisha Berry, Vinod Nahardih, Istiyak Khan, Akash Dhaiya
Genre: Drama, Fictional Biography  
Direction: Akhilesh jaiswal
Production: Sanjeev Singh Pal, Ajay Rai
Written by: Akhilesh Jaiswal, Gunjan Saxena
Cinematographer: Gavemic Ary
Editor: Apurva Motiwale
Studio: Bohra Bros Produtions, Jar Pictures
Release Date: 9th May, 2014 (Mumbai Film Festival – October 2013)
Language: Hindi
Duration: 1 hour 39 minutes

Mastram is a person’s story who fancies himself as a great writer and who desperately wants to become a famous writer but ends up writing titillating stories with a pseudonym Mastram. His stories find way to the wayside book vendors where his books are bought discreetly by people spanning all age groups. Mastram is humourous but bundled with the apathy of a writer that makes us laugh but also urges us to empathize the dreams of Rajaram (Rahul Bagga). The film successfully portrays the so-called conservative societies which has a taboo towards the word ‘sex’, but actually relish sleaze. This film also funnily portrays the visionary in Mastram who proclaims that one day this will be common. This is inspired by the story of an anonymous author of popular pulp fiction and sex stories in Hindi (known as Mastram), whose books were sold at railway station stalls and small roadside and pavement shops in North India during 1980-90s. So, it is a kind of fictional semi-autobiography.

The movie begins with a scene in a hostel room where a few boys are reading a porn book. Then the frame changes to the year 1989 (somewhere in Himachal Pradesh), where a groom Rajaram Vaishnava aka Hans is going along with his uncle in Baraat. He reluctantly expresses to his uncle that he is not keen to get married since he wants to pursue his M. Phil in Hindi Literature from JNU, Delhi. Uncle tries to convince him saying that his fiancée Renu (Tara Alisha Berry) is beautiful, she would take care of him, also cook great food viz. mutton for him. Ultimately Rajaram gets married to Renu. Though initially Rajaram is hesitant to even look at Renu, but slowly they develop their bond. Renu seems to be a simple lady and ‘sorted-out’ in life. She encourages Rajaram to pursue his dream of being a writer. On the spur of a moment, Rajaram leaves his job as a clerk in a bank and starts looking out for publishing agencies to get his novel published. Ultimately he reaches Shivshankar Publications, but his work is shunned by them and the reason given for rejection was that his work is missing ‘masala’.

Rajaram tries to decode the word ‘masala’ from his friend Mahesh, and other acquaintances that what this ‘masala’ is all about and when he understands, there starts his journey as a writer with pseudonym Mastram. He starts writing erotic pornographic stories taking cues from his surroundings viz. Yauvan ki pahli Baarish. Mastram books sell like hot cakes in the market.

Rajaram sees success as Mastram but he is unable to even share his published books with wife or friends due to the ‘taboo’ topic he is handling and fearing society’s condemnation which always wants others to be ‘virtuous’.

He could convince his publisher to publish one of his ‘good’ work – Man ki Vilochana which he thought he could share with his people.

Does Man ki Vilochana turn out to be a best seller? Does Mastram continue writing porn-stories ? What happens when his wife and other friends / acquaintances understand that Rajaram and Mastram are one person ?

Director Akhilesh Jaiswal deserves a great applause for projecting this unconventional story of Mastram with much authenticity. Rahul Bagga shines as Rajaram aka Mastram. His various facial expressions of shyness, passion, having a naughty smile on his face (on understanding that his work is read by people), vulnerability etc. are all done with utmost perfection. Tara Alisha as Renu is also very good, she completely justifies her character. All supporting cast have also done great work.


Mastram stands true for Indian Psyche which is being captured beautifully without being analytical, preachy, biased, right/wrong or dichotomous. 

Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)