‘Masaan’ writer decodes Banaras’ two worlds: Conservative and Radical


Neeraj Ghaywan’s ‘Masaan’, based on two different worlds in the city of Banaras, is all set to hit theatres this Friday. The movie stars seasoned actors such as Sanjay Mishra, Shweta Tripathi and Richa Chadha.

The film written by Varun Grover has already bagged two awards at the Cannes Film Festival this year, along with getting a five-minute long standing ovation from the audience at a special screening.

As an engineering student, Grover spent many years in Banaras, an experience that helped him a lot while researching for ‘Masaan’, which traces the story of people who work at the City’s ghats and help families burn the pyres of the dead.

“Banaras now looks very different from the one I have seen during my college days. I get nostalgic about my college days and I dream of going back there, which is also quite disturbing since I know I cannot go back to that era. Still, it was wonderful to visit Banaras after 9 years. Apart from that, I got to see a side of Banaras that I hadn’t seen before,” says Grover.

Vicky Kaushal’s character in ‘Masaan’ in belongs to a family of ‘Dom Raja’

“Banaras has two kings like figure, Kashi Naresh and Dom Raja, and they are actually treated like kings. We visited the house of Kallu Dom (the Dom Raja), whose people are responsible for helping the pyres burn at the ghats. The Dom Raja is supposed to be a king, but his house is dilapidated. It was once a flourishing Haveli, but today poverty has taken a heavy toll on it. Too many people live in cluttered places,” Grover added.

Grover also talks of the dichotomy of living in a conservative place like Banaras and being connected with the world on virtual platforms like Facebook and YouTube at the same time. “We wanted to know what the younger generations of these places think of watching porn, pre-marital sex, morality and other related topics. I was surprised to hear young girls respond to our questions without any inhibitions. The Banaras I knew was very different. It was really conservative. Today’s Banaras is totally different. People have opened up a lot at least in their own spheres. Maybe they are still conservative in front of parents. This was one of the most inspirational experiences in the city.”

This clash of ideologies forms the core of Ghaywan’s ‘Masaan’, which is being eagerly awaited by film enthusiasts.