“Masaan” stars Richa Chadha, newcomer Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi of “Kya Mast Hai Life” and veteran Sanjay Mishra among others.
“While writing the script, I already had Richa in my mind. After Richa, I wanted to cast Shweta Tripathi working on the script then Sanjay Mishraji came in. Actually, Manoj Bajpai and Rajkummar Rao were supposed to be there in the film but dates did not work out. (But) I am happy with the casting,” Neeraj told PTI in an interview here.
In “Masaan”, four lives intersect along the Ganges in Varanasi – a lower-caste boy in hopeless love, a daughter ridden with guilt of a sexual encounter ending in a tragedy, a father with a fading morality, and a spirited child yearning for a family. All of them long to escape the moralistic small-town in which they are confined.
A friend of Neeraj told him about the ghats of Varanasi where dead bodies are burnt as per Hindu culture and this formed the genesis of the film.
“I was intrigued about how a man spending his entire life burning dead bodies would appreciate the meaning of life. Every film goes through trouble. It was difficult to make this film on a tight budget, in real locations… We worked as a team,” Neeraj said.
“Every step there was some difficulty but we sailed through. We had a strategy that if we make it through film festivals, we will take the buzz and then release it soon after,” he added.
“Masaan” took a trip to Cannes Film Festival this year and won two prizes and received a standing ovation.
“I felt more happy for India than our film as we were winning the award after 26 years… it feels unreal. It is great that we have won award for our country,” Neeraj said.
The flip side of releasing a movie at film festivals is that they are seen as ‘arty’.
“We are promoting this film like a normal one and not like a small Indie film or art or festival film. Through marketing, we are saying it is a normal Hindi film. We are trying to go through word-of-mouth way…,” he said.