The year in review

Best of Bollywood 2015 countdown: ‘Masaan’

Neeraj Ghaywan’s sensitive debut is about the ebb and flow of desires and ambitions in Varanasi.

Neeraj Ghaywan’s sensitive Varanasi-set debut is next on our countdown of the best Hindi films made in 2015.

Masaan

Neeraj Ghaywan’s first feature, written by lyricist and stand-up comic Varun Grover, is set in the ancient city of life and death. Chance, the Ganga river, and railway tracks all plays their part in the stories of Deepak (Vicky Kaushal), from the Dalit Dom caste that has raked coals over corpses at the ghats for millennia, and Devi (Richa Chadha), a computer institute employee whose first brush with love and sex goes horribly wrong. Deepak falls and rises in love, but Devi’s journey takes longer. Harassed and shamed by a venal blackmailing police officer who claims that he possesses a sex tape of her tryst with her lover, Devi folds into herself. It takes a convivial colleague, Sadhya (Pankaj Tripathi), to break the ice and make her re-assess her relationship with her father (Sanjay Mishra). Sadhya’s tribute to the pleasures of kheer is one of Masaan’s most brilliant moments.

Play

Tripathi, one of Hindi cinema’s most gifted and dependable actors, is perfectly cast as Sadhya. Ghaywan had met Tripathi on the sets of Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, on which Ghaywan was an assistant director. The sequence was more comic in tone, but was trimmed for the final cut, the filmmaker said. “Sadhya is a happy loner,” Ghaywan said. “Completely unaware of how lonely his life is and yet, relishing the goodness of life, he is the catalyst who brings change in Devi’s life. Varun wrote Sadhya based on a character from Vinod Kumar Shukla’s novel Deewar Mein Ek Khirkee Rahti Thi.” The movie is packed with several references to Hindi literature, and the eagle-eyed viewer might spot Sadhya reading Shukla’s book in the movie.

The conversation between Devi and Sadhya is quiet and ordinary, yet profound, like so many of the exchanges between various characters. “Sadhya is the one who purges Devi’s turmoil that is inside of her, making her reassess her equation with her own father,” Ghaywan said. “Throughout the film I wanted the dialogue to be spoken in a conversational manner, the way it was written. I didn’t want the philosophy or the character’s motive to be spelt out and attract attention, but just happen organically.”

There was more to Sadhya’s character than was included in Masaan’s final version. “A scene that is there in the deleted scenes on the DVD shows him talking to Devi on a scooter,” Ghaywan said. “He reveals his urge to someday just get on a train and get off an a random station where he can get a whiff of good tea. He can’t do this now as he is tied to his father and his job. Devi motivates him to do it. One day Sadhya calls Devi while she is in Allahabad at a lecture. He tells her that he has taken that train and it motivates Devi to do something that she has been wanting to do – go and meet Piyush’s parents.” Piyush is Devi’s unfortunate lover, with whom she gets caught in a tawdry hotel room by a police unit. “All this was removed in the film because of time,” Ghaywan said. “Also, in the edit, I wanted Devi’s trigger to finally meet Piyush’s parents to be more internal rather than external. She has a sense of dignity that is dear to her. While writing, we knew it is not going to be an easy character to fathom. We didn’t want a perfect arc for her (like it is for Deepak) or a defined set of character traits. In grief, your inner soul is in contradiction with what the mind wants. Devi had to be uneven, unfathomable and instinctive.”

For previous entries in our countdown to the best Hindi films of the year, see here, here and here.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.

Play

So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.