Release date: May 9, 2014
Directed by: Akhilesh Jaiswal
Cast: Rahul Bagga, Tara Alisha Berry, Istiyak Khan

Do you know: Sex is a simple and primary form of interaction between one, two or more humans. Or dolls, toys and bionic hand simulators. Yeah, you knew that. Now it may be simple, but how one gets around to it and the perceived complexity that surrounds it is what makes me interested in films which deal with sex as a subtheme. How sex is supposed to be serious, life-altering and how I shouldn’t even be writing about it–makes me all the more interested and irreverent towards it.

Mastram isn’t a film that ‘deals’ with sex upfront; it’s originally a story of a failed writer trying to get his literary works published. Rajaram (Rahul Bagga) is a reticent, young man who has aspirations of making it big in a small town in Himachal. His writings are too idealistic and they are restricted to that. No reason to cheer or jeer for his works is ever established. You can’t decipher what exactly is his writing style and nor are you supposed to care about it, apparently. He gets talked into marrying Renu (Tara Alisha Berry) and now he has a family of his own, and a bank job that he detests.

When he tries to sit down and ‘write’ a story, he couldn’t get anything in his mind, and that’s when one old chap at the tea shop (local cafe) advises him to just keep his eyes open and keep looking around. Throughout, he’s been looking around, sometimes at his neighbour’s wife Savita or at his own wife Renu. He keeps his ears open while his barber makes small talk. Even in an inebriated state, while walking home from the bar with his friend Mahesh (Istiyak Khan) he looks for the ‘masala’ that he’s been asked by the publishers to pepper his work with. This looking for inspiration part turned out to be my favorite up until the halfway mark.

Extra posters because they are awesome.

Extra posters because they are awesome.


In search of ‘masala’, he discovers what the publishers need and he gives it to them. Masala their knickers can’t handle. And from here on, his metamorphosis from Rajaram to Mastram initiates. He takes ordinary tales of lust and turns them into lore of erotica, which never emphasize on sex, but are all about “feelings”. Or so Rajaram claims. He gets to dance with success, but not with his serious works as Rajaram. This makes him depressed and consumed by excessive pride simultaneously. He turns desperate and wanders close to home for his inspiration.

The proverbial downfall comes knocking along, but not how you expect it to. This is where the excessively simplified plot seems lacking, a more stinging punch could have been better. The dichotomy created in the writer’s life by the double standards of his own readers was good for me, but the execution let off some major steam. Rahul Bagga puts up a stoic face for most of the duration of the film, which is confusing and aversive at certain points. The build to each escapade that he fantasizes about, however amusing, comes undone in front of that final conflict.

Baniye Ka Lollipop, Nurse Ki Suhagraat are fun, and cater to what they promise, Mastram’s own story could have been more. Is it a disappointment then? Not at all. I liked it in spite of its shortcomings.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)


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