Mumbai: Neeraj Ghaywan’s Cannes Award winning directorial debut Masaan had its trailer launch at a suburban multiplex amid much fanfare with its cast and crew in Mumbai.
Talking about the journey of the first Indian film to win two awards (FIPRESCI Award and the Most Promising Future Prize in the Un Certain Regard section) at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 26 years, the director, Neeraj Ghaywan said, “Varun Grover and I researched content for the film for around a year in Benares. We spent a lot of time with the Chaudhary family of the Dom community who work in cremation grounds. A lot of the film has been drawn from real life.”
He added, “Winning at Cannes has helped us in many ways. Besides the amazing exposure and buzz in India, we have already sold the film in many territories abroad.”
Lead actress Richa Chadha, who looked picture perfect in white said, “We are seeing the trailer for the first time. Neeraj has saved a lot of masala for Indian audiences because it’s an Indian film after all.”
Richa’s performance in the film is getting her praise from all quarters but she’s not one to take credit. Richa said matter-of-factly, “Masaan is not riding on my shoulders but on the able shoulders of the film. This film is closest to my heart. I find the film spiritual and so I have been on board since the beginning.”
Talking about her character and preparation, she said, “The character of Devi has been the toughest and most different one I have portrayed. Devi is distressed but not guilty. I had spent time in Benares during the making of Gangs of Wasseypur. I read the script once and watched Iranian and French movies to understand the tonality.”
She added, “I love the empathy, compassion and understanding with which Neeraj, a man and a first-time director, dealt beautifully with the emotions, Devi, as a woman is going through. It is completely non-judgmental. The measure of success for an actor is when a role is written especially for them and Neeraj wrote this especially for me so I had to do this break – through character and be part of the film.”
Filmfare award-winner Sanjay Mishra who plays Richa’s father in the movie says candidly, “I was hungry for nine years. Now I am getting work so I am doing it. I am glad to be part of the movie. I have not seen the movie yet. I agreed to do the movie after hearing one line ‘Mann kasturi re’. That one line has the essence of the entire movie.”
Explaining the meaning and relevance of the title Masaan, Varun Grover, the writer and lyricist of the movie said, “Masaan is a slang word in Benares for shamshaan (cremation ground). Vicky Kaushal’s character is from the Dom community and he works at the cremation ground in Benares. Besides this, the film reflects upon the philosophy of the cycle of life and death in many ways.”
Producer Manish Mundra of Drishyam Films clarified that Masaan is not an art-house film. He said, “Masaan has set a benchmark and paved the way for more films to go to festivals and get released with the same fanfare in India. Masaan has completed the full circle in that sense. Masaan will negate the notion that festival films are arty and don’t find a release. We are releasing it in about 300 screens.”
Producer Vikramaditya Motwane of Phantom Films said, “Anurag Kashyap and I read and loved the script from the very beginning. We began raising funds and got producers Manish Mundra (Drishyam Films), Macassar (Melita and Marijane) and Sikhya Entertainment on board and they have been our guardian angels on this film. I am very happy that the film is releasing on a grand scale.”
Producer Vikas Bahl of Phantom Films candidly admitted that he hadn’t even read Masaan’s script before green-lighting it. He said, “I am the only producer who came on board without reading the script. Neeraj is a serious guy and I thought his script would be serious too so I just left the decision to Vikram. I saw the first cut about two months back and I found it delightful and magical. He announced, “From now on, I am producing Neeraj Ghaywan without reading the script. It saves time also.”
Producer Guneet Monga of Sikhya Entertainment concludes, “Several films have gone to festivals over the past few years. It takes a lot of vision to make a film and take it so far. It’s commendable and amazing that we are releasing Masaan within two months time after its Cannes premiere and that is thanks to Phantom Films and Drishyam Films.
Shweta Tripathi and Vicky Kaushal expressed their excitement over being part of such a dream project.
Masaan hits cinema screens in India on 24th July.