Midway through the film there is a conversation between two characters discussing the impact of Mastram. The younger one argues how this is going to hamper the youth, the older one says, "Mere liye toh itihas hai". While the scene is intended to bring in some laughs, it does imply a lot. Mastram probably is nothing less than historic.
Generations since 1980s have grown up on a peculiar soft-porn literature Mastram. Yet nothing is known about its origin, where it started and more importantly - who started it all! The director's efforts to trace the origin of Mastram resulted in a naught. Yet the phenomenon of Mastram was so compelling that he decided to weave a story to fit this legendary writer's life.
Set in the '80s, Mastram sketches the life of a wannabe writer Raghu Ram. Unhappy in his bank job he dreams of breaking free and making a name as a writer. His novel however never makes it to print and finally he brings himself to write a piece of soft porn. Life changes overnight and Mastran is born.
Owing to its preset premises the storyline is rather staid and without much graph. The director opts for an ordinary life in a sleepy town rather than something out of the blue and extra-ordinary. This is where the film might let down a section of audience.
Director Akhilesh Jaiswal however deserved praises for the treatment to the subject. The Hindi film industry is replete with examples where filmmakers have hooked in skin show and impropriety just to lure audiences in. Jaiwal could have easily done the same with his Mastram. There lies the beauty of this 'fictional biopic'.
An exceedingly beautifully shot film, the cinematographer provides complete support to the director's vision. The music is carefully chosen. Even an outlandish Yo Yo Honey Singh's rap falls right in place! The dialogue writing is top-class, especially the ones where Mastram is narrating his stories.
Mastram is a brave attempt. And it is clap-worthy. This is one film that should provide courage for aspirants to dive full length into subjects that they wish to explore and bring out stories hitherto untold. And tell them with dignity. A film definitely worth the ticket!
Critic: Noyon Jyoti Parasara
(3.5 / 5) : Very Good