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Monday, 22 March 2010

What a beginning!!! (Masoom)

There is a scene in Shekhar Kapur's Masoom where Mini tries to lighten the air of tension looming large over dinner. She doesn't know that her parents have had a nasty fight, resulting from her mother's new-found knowledge that her father has cheated on her in the past. Ignorant of the prevailing bitterness between the couple, she breaks into a mischievous, "Tayyab Ali pyar ka dushman hai hai..." before fading off to just a whimper.
This scene, eminently forgettable to many viewers, stay etched in my mind to this day, almost 15 years since I first watched Masoom, Kapur's directorial debut and definitely one of his best treatises on the complexity of human emotions.
In fact, there are reasons galore why I keep going back to the film whenever I'm game for some tender family flick.
The film, shouldered by a stellar lead cast of Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi (I read that during the filming of Masoom the actors hardly interacted!!!), starts with a picture-perfect portrayal of a happy family. But before you know it, the happy family is faced with a storm, a sort of blast from Shah's past. (I'm not giving out the story...that would be a unravel the twists yourself). The supporting cast of Saeed Jaffrey and Tanuja help forwarding the plot. But I guess the child actors rule the show.
Everytime I see Rahul's vulnerable green eyes, (Jugal Hansraj...sadly he could not put them to good use as a young man), I melt. His husky, almost inaudible voice, tugs at my heart as he longs for love from Azmi. He sees his mother in her when he says, "Meri ma bhi aisi phoolon wali saree pehenti thi" much to Azmi's chagrin. And when he cuts his hand and shrieks out "Ma" to Azmi, I find myself choking without fail!
Urmila Matondkar's stable act is kind of overshadowed by her sibling, the exuberant Mini. In scenes where you find her shrieking for the fear of a puppy, playfully calling her elder sister stupid, babbling with her mouth filled with toothopaste foam and of course, the "Tayyab Ali sequence" you can't help but laugh. Not a laugh, mind you, that will make your ribs ache, but a satisfied smile signifying that innocence still exists.
Kapur's inspiration came from Erich Segal's Man, Woman and Child but the filmmaker beats the book. His film is way better. In terms of story, twists, characterisation and ending...the winner of the lot, Kapur gives us a saga that leaves you teary-eyed...with happy tears of course. Go watch it. You'll come back thinking just like me, I guarantee.
There are many winning shots in the masterpiece...the song Tujhse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi being just one of them. Because the lyrics are laden with inner meaning and interspersed with dialogues that suggest the helplessness of the father, the hapless circumstances and the longing of a 12-year-old. There is another musical jewel. Huzr Is Tarhan, stays on forever for its coquettish flavour, its flirtatious tinge.
These are but some of the reasons why Masoom, pulls me. But the biggest rationale is its year of birth. We share it. In 1983 a classic, a cinematic gem was born from Kapur's stable...a rare film that contributed towards my steady relation with celluloid. Truely, what a beginning!!!


  1. my fev scene is wen naseer encourages jugal and almost calls him his son during a friendly cricket match....remember??

  2. yes, of course. I do remember :)

  3. shekhar kapur shud start directing indian movies again........

  4. Well, well, well, I've to watch Masoom now (shamefully, I haven't yet).
    BTW, the ending (of this post) is fantastic.
    Way to go!

  5. Ya, that's true. More so because he isn't making good foreign films either

  6. Its a great blog, there are so many things I would not have bothered to notice in the movie till I read this blog. Now I hav reason again to watch it and indeed, more carefully and enjoy the myriad expressions and emotions I missed otherwise

  7. I must honestly admit to not remembering the details of this film - I saw it years ago, shortly after it was released. But I do remember enjoying it even way back then, when I just sort of understood the background. Beautiful film, and so sensitively done. And the end is so perfect!

  8. @Dustedoff: This is one of my most favourite films. I just love the way the tension is depicted here and the gradual acceptance by Shabana of Rahul... Amazing direction and lovely songs :)

  9. I was barely 10 when I watched this, but I still remember most of the film - it was that memorable! In an interview Nasseeruddin Shah joked that all the parents took their kids to see the film since the main character was a child, but its not a children's film. He's right, its not a kid's film. But the children play a very big part, and are so believable that I could relate to them as I never could to any other filmi kids.

    Its high time I re-watched this - for Huzoor is kadar bhi na, if not for all its cinematic goodness. :)

  10. @Bollyviewer: Exactly! It is not a children's film. It is so much more.
    Gosh something about the innocence of the children in this film makes me happy. Not all children get such great roles in a movie on relationships :)
    And, Huzoor is kadar is like passion personified. Thanks for the comment :)

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