The Dirty Picture

Scriptwriter Akhilesh Jaiswal debuts as director with a movie that romanticises the life of Hindi porn writer Mastram

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published: May 6, 2013 3:46:45 am

Scriptwriter Akhilesh Jaiswal debuts as director with a movie that romanticises the life of Hindi porn writer Mastram

While growing up in Bhopal in the late ’80s,Akhilesh Jaiswal,like most teenagers,was introduced to the sleazy world of soft porn. These were scandalous tales of tabooed relationships spun by an author called Mastram. Hidden away from the glare of teachers and parents,the books — Yauvan Ki Barish,Jijaji Ka Pyar and other such titles — would be surreptitiously exchanged among friends at a secret hiding place. “As a 13-year-old,I used to wonder who Mastram really was and what he would have told his family about his profession,” says Jaiswal,who also penned the Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW) script.

Years later,his curiosity has resulted in a 99-minute-long film titled Mastram,which is set to release later this year. “I had forgotten about Mastram and it was only when I visited Dhanbad and surrounding areas to write the script of GoW that I saw these books being sold at railway stations for Rs 10. I rediscovered his writing but I don’t know who he is. The movie is a fictional biography,” says the debutant director,who found out that a number of Hindi authors used Mastram as a pseudonym to write erotica at that time. “Now the target of the books is lower middle class people,as there is access to porn online,” says Jaiswal.

Unable to find out the whereabouts of the author who penned the first Mastram novel,Jaiswal has fictionalised his story and hopes that once the film releases,the original writer will come forward to take credit. The movie traces the life of Rajaram,a bank clerk in Manali in the late ’70s,who wants to be a writer and follow the footsteps of Hindi literary giants such as Premchand and Harivansh Rai Bachchan. With little flair for words,Rajaram ends up compromising with his creativity and writes soft porn under a pseudonym. “The general misconception when such a film is made is that it will be kinky. Mastram is a slice-of-life film where the lead is undergoing an identity crisis,has to face his wife and friends and has to deal with the fact that he has compromised in life,” says actor Rahul Bagga,who plays the lead character.

The 32-year-old actor,too,is familiar with the written “sexcapades” of Mastram’s characters and when approached for the role last year,he had no reason to decline the offer. “When I joined theatre in Delhi,I was introduced to a variety of literature,even Mastram,and we used to have reading sessions just for fun. The beauty of the writing is not the sleaze,it’s the detailing. For instance,before the final act between two people,there will be rather long descriptions of the weather,the room and the characters,” says Bagga,with a laugh.

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