Cast: Rahul Bagga, Tara-Alisha Berry, Kapil Dubey
Director: Akhil Jaiswal
IE Rating: * and 1/2
If you were a boy growing up in a certain kind of household or hostel in North India in the 70s and 80s, chances were you were glad-handing pulpy porn booklets, written on cheap yellow paper, by a certain gent named Mastram. No one knew who the author/authors was/were, but the phenomenal popularity of the series made the ‘Mastram’ brand name an urban legend.
I’ve only heard of these ‘books’ but never laid my eyes on them. What I’ve got though, from an avid reader then who is a respectable middle-aged character now, that they were the first ‘coming of age’ of a whole generation of eager young fellows. So I was all set for a healthy dose of smut from the film ‘Mastram’, and all kinds of intriguingly meta possibilities – the film being a fictionalised account of a ‘fictional’ writer.
But it turns out to be much too banal. Rajaram ( Bagga) is an earnest, bored bank official who thinks he has a great talent for writing. He gets full support from his wife (Berry), but only derision from everyone else, including the local publisher he takes his manuscript to. He is urged to add some `masala’ and return. On his way, he has an epiphany involving a sexy woman, and clothes slithering, and much moaning and sighing. He writes that up, it gets into print, and gets lapped up. And Mastram is born, working stiff by day, and purveyor of illicit sex by night.
Except for one sequence that could justifiably be termed outright ‘hot’, an adolescent phrase just right for the mostly adolescent readership, there is nothing in the film which is strictly for adults. The situations that turn Rajaram into Mastram—when he looks at his comely neighbour, for example, or a grocer’s shapely assistant—are bland. So is Rajaram-Mastram. The re-creation of an era, and why this series became so successful, which could have lent the film some heft, is wholly missing from the story.
Those dying to watch ‘porn’ on the big screen – both the curious young ‘uns and the nostalgic middle-aged fans – will be disappointed. Better to access cached page views of Savita Bhabhi instead.
Does anyone have an original Mastram copy lying around which can be lent, meanwhile? Do let me know.