#54 #Scriptors100BestFilms #Masoom
Masoom shows what Hindi cinema can be if it gets over its stereotypical depiction of formulas, cliches, masala, item numbers and Melodrama.
Masoom is moving, poignant and involving, to watch. Based on Eric Segal’s celebrated book, Man Woman and Child and a movie made in Hollywood over the same premises. Masoom in many ways surpasses its Hollywood counterpart in its emotional tug and free- flowing screenplay.So what do we have story wise here? Here we have a man who is informed that he has a son (from a girl he once had a brief affair with ) and the boy’s mother is no more. The story unfolds as to how this discovery creates turmoil in the man’s family life and the intense emotional upheaval this will cause in the lives of the man, his wife and the child .On paper the story line does not sound incredibly exciting or original, but what is on screen is purely amazing. The actors portray their characters with such knowledge and ability that you feel the turbulence ,and its emotional outflow enveloping you till the crisis is finally resolved.The most interesting twist in the screen play is that the child (Jugal Hansraj ) gets to know early in the film that DK (Naseer ) is his father and yet he has to remain in the shadows. The expressions of his hurt, and humiliation and the cold rebuff he faces from Indu (Shabana) creates that compassion and sympathy which tugs at the viewer’s heart most movingly.
After a few forgettable attempts as an actor, Shekhar Kapur, excels here in a genre which was not so well explored or portrayed . He created a kind of urbane realistic cinema with all the ingredients of a Hindi movie, yet so very balanced and controlled that the narrative seems to be the story of next door neighbors who are so realistic and normal. Shekhar Kapoor shows the world how Indian movies could be. He doesn’t break any of the basic rules. There are songs and there is melodrama, some loud moments ( Saeed Jaffrey in a flamboyant Punjabi character) but Kapoor actually backs it up with a strong script , plausible situations and brilliant performances with none of the Bollywood excesses.
Masoom grows on you . It never goes overboard in its depiction of a modern household set in urban India of its times. The lifestyle of a young dynamic upwardly-mobile couple in a big city is executed with impressive precision. The characters, the dialogues, the situations, are strikingly realistic and simple. it does not have any cliches whatsoever, and it is not overly emotional – it is authentic and real. That’s what makes the emotional effect on the viewer even more powerful and the story so easy to relate with Shabana and Naseeruddin Shah’s portrayal of Indu and DK, respectively is both practical , endearing and complex . Naseer portrays a mixture of guilt , affection, remorse and regret superbly. His is a character with clay feet. His transgressions end up creating two masooms, the child as well as the wife. both of whom bear the brunt of his mistakes. It is quite difficult to imagine any other actor of those times ( or even present times !) playing DK with the sincerity and sensitivity with which Naseer did. DK is a very real character, he is a man who is not ashamed to cry. Its very apparent he loves his wife a lot, but the emotion he shows for Bhavna (Supriya Pathak)is also very real, and honest DK is a very rare character in an Indian film, men in Indian films are not sensitive like him, they don’t break down while talking to their wives, they don’t show helplessness. DK is so humane that its difficult for him to not touch and affect you in some way. There a so many tender moments in his scenes with Rahul ( Jugal Hansraj).In one of the most moving scenes, as a prelude to Anup Ghoshal’s version of Tujhse mnraaz nahi zindagi the little boy says innocently Kya main tab aapko papa bula sakta huun? A moment that’s bound to evoke tears in your eyes.
This film specially belongs to Shabana, and is indeed one of her most classic performances. Shabana Azmi is exceptional as Indu. What is more striking that for a woman who has not experienced motherhood is real-life, her performance as a young mother of two is outstanding. Worth watching are her expressions in the dining table scene, Her face dripping with motherly concern and affection while dealing with her daughters turns into stony aloofness the moment she faces the boy seated alongside. In another scene, she covers the sleeping boy with a blanket and is so overwhelmed with emotion, that she drops on the staircase and cries, not a word of dialogue here, yet so much is conveyed Shabana Azmi’s character develops more towards the end when love and compassion begins to overpower her hatred for the act that her husband had committed years ago. Indu is not shown to have any extraordinary characteristics in the beginning. . She is just jealous of Rahul’s mother and feels disgust for the deeds of her husband. Any one would feel like that. Her character gets some respite when she begins to see the boy Rahul for what he truly is that his mother is dead and his father has to hide his identity from all, he is truly alone and orphaned. Its love and sympathy for him that raises Indu above the normal jealous, hurt wife.This is quite a real test of her skills as a fine actor.With just her eyes and body language, Shabana conveys toughness and vulnerability, displays such feelings as anger, despair, indifference, remorse and compassion skillfully.
The turning point comes in the scene where the boy has just returned after running away at night and Shabana confronts him in anger ,accidentally blurting out.
“Tumhe pata hai main aur tumhare pa ! Uncle kitne pareshan ho rahein hain ?”
And the boy quietly says, that he knows.
Mujhe pata hai …. ki woh mere papa hain.
For me that is the best scene in the movie. The shadows of multiple emotions fanning across Shabana’s face is perhaps an apex of her ability as a performer.The germination of maternal instincts who finally understands the despair and dilemma of a motherless child, who is kept hidden by his own father and the hurt ,pain and turmoil he is going through claws at her conscience and here onwards the journey of her acceptance begins.
The basic theme of this film seems to be the power of love. DK’s love for Rahul battles against his love for the rest of his family. And it is Indu’s love for DK, and her eventual love and acceptance of Rahul, that keeps the family from being torn apart. It is a film about strength, about having the strength to love someone no matter what they have done, Shabana Azmi’s Indu is both fragile but incredibly strong and dignified. Naseerudin Shah plays DK with such courage, but also shows his weak side. This is a film where the power of its central theme is amazing, and shows a side of Bollywood that is largely unheard of.The film is also known for having a very natural appearance by child actors,As the wife builds wall upon wall between herself and the husband, the kids are breaking barriers and bonding as only children can. Jugal Hansraj makes the greatest impact. It may be because the entire story revolves around him, He is supposed to be the ‘Innocent'(Masoom) this film deals with, and this is perfectly done through his endearingly naive eyes, sweet diction and touching simplicity. All the performances are top notch, May it be Tanuja in a brief role or Kids. Due credit also goes to Kapur’s amazing direction and Gulzar’s brilliant writing, which are aided by a great technical crew, fantastic acting and a very memorable soundtrack .
R D Burman. embellishes Gulzar’s lyrics to create touching melodies, Tujhse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi,Do Naina Aur Ek Kahani, Huzoor is qadar are Soulful, ear-pleasing and integrated into the story line head on. The haunting score couldn’t be any more apt. Whats more striking that variations of a single tune are used as the background score for the entire movie! Lata Mangeshkar’s version of Tujhsey naraaz nahin zindagi is perhaps the most soul stirring composition in Hindi films -in its technical finesse as well as its meaningful content and perfect rendition evoking molten pathos.
All in all, Masoom is a must-watch, and it should provide a treat to anyone. The only regret I had is that there wasn’t enough of Indu and Rahul’s positive interaction. I wish they had extended more into their relationship after the tear-evoking “Sorry Aunty”, which is definitely the film’s best moment (You must watch the film to understand what I mean).Masoom redeems to a great extent an entirely inane ensemble of disastrously terrible decade of Hindi films the 1980s.
-Compiled in association with our reader Mohnish Bajwa.