DVD Mastram

DVD Mastram
DVD Mastram
Run time: 98 min
Rating: 5.6
Genres: Drama
Director: Akhilesh Jaiswal
Writers: Akhilesh Jaiswal, Gunjan Saxena
Stars: Rahul Bagga, Tara-Alisha Berry, Akash Dhaiya
Plot Keywords: 1990s, 1980s, masturbation, husband wife relationship, marriage
Country: India
Release Date: 9 May 2014 (India)


  1. The widespread interest in guilty pleasures and fantasies of life can be seen from the popularity of 'kirtu.com', a website that created two famous housewives Savita Bhabhi and Velamma. Erotic stories and magazines have dominated Indian markets for ages. The film 'Mastaram' is débutante director Akhilesh Jaiswal's take on this sensual issue.

    A bank clerk Rajaram Vaishnav (Bagga) aspires to be a writer. He decides to quit and pursue his dream following a spat with his superior. However, publishers refuse to work with him as they fail to find uniqueness in his work. At the behest of a publisher Mr Purohit, Rajaram decides to write 'masaledar' stories. Instead, he ends up writing steamy stories using the pseudonym 'Mastram'.

    Director Akhilesh Jaiswal who co-wrote Gangs of Wassepur has handled a bold subject with significant ease. We know 'sex sells' but are reluctant to discuss it. This taboo has made lives pleasure and miserable at the same time. He also highlights the plight of struggling writers. The ascent of English made Hindi authors vulnerable as the new generation failed to understand the emotions conveyed through their words. Today, they are left with very few options.

    Rahul Bagga is excellent as Rajaram, a timid, ambitious and budding author. Tara Alisha Berry (making her acting debut) fits perfectly into the role of his 'sati-savitri' type wife. The village backdrop has paved the way for a few stage actors to give useful supports and provide better insights into rural mindsets (connected to erotica). The film, which gathers your interest in the first half, hurries to its climax in the other half.

    I am going with three out of five stars for Mastram. It is a must watch for all conservative pseudo- intellectuals.

  2. To begin with, for the ones in search of all those bold porn scenes, shown in its Youtube videos and more, the film is going to be a big disappointment as the director here is not actually interested in providing that mental masturbation to his viewers, going against all expectations. But for the others, more interested in seeing how the director tries to depict a fictional biography of an unknown controversial personality, this is sure going to be an appealing watch, though might not be a hugely satisfying one, portraying the story in a subtle, controlled manner focusing on the writer alone.

    Actually MASTRAM begins with a young educated man aspiring to become a writer and then it progresses as a simple, realistic biography revolving around his initial hardships and struggle in its first 30 minutes. So there is no sexual stuff in these opening reels until, Rajaram (its lead character) forcefully starts writing porn stories to keep his kitchen running. And later too the film focuses more on the writer's mental conflict & his relationships only instead of the expected erotic stuff served repeatedly. Therefore a large proportion of the viewers are bound to feel cheated as the film gives them nothing more than already seen in its bold You Tube trailers promoted well.

    In fact the only sexual scenes coming in this 98 minutes movie are the ones when Rajaram starts writing a new story thinking about the fictional characters inspired from his real life acquaintances. And this is only the key feature of movie, brilliantly portraying the fact that every writer takes his basic inspiration from the existing people only in his immediate surroundings and then goes on assigning new roles to them as per his own imagination. In other words, whether it is the respected literature including poetry, novels & stories or the porn stuff including such vulgar texts, the inspiration remains the actual life only flowing around the writer in its various forms.

    Moreover, the final insightful moments of the film further reveal that it all depends upon the unlimited capabilities of a human mind only that in what manner he wishes to use his creative imaginations in the end. Because it factually remains the same curvy body of a beautiful girl which is rhythmically compared to the Taj Mahal by one writer and interpreted in a lusty, sensual manner by the other with the mind visualizing the beauty in two different ways.

    Hence if you see the film with a viewpoint of studying the person behind those best-selling sex books in the 80s, then it does turns out to be a worthy watch. But if you are just interested in watching some spicy sequences moving a step ahead than its online promos then its certainly going to be a below average film serving nothing as per the promises made.

    Also, MASTRAM can easily be explained as a film caught within two distinctive perceptions of its producer/publicity designer and the director. Because where at one end the publicity material of the film suggests it to be one of the boldest films ever, there the film is actually a simple effort to depict a writer's creative struggle and his cracking relationships due to the hidden job under taken. As a result, the end-product keeps standing in the mid-way and the viewer misses the bold content, being promoted all over the net in the last two months through an undoubtedly well designed publicity campaign, for sure.

    Coming to the music department, Honey Singh's Gujarati track "Achko Machko" comes at a perfect timing and the song indeed sounds great while watching the film. But I was disappointed not finding the other promoted Punjabi track "Baba Ve" in the film, which ironically is a famous double meaning song of Punjab from the early 80s. Background music supports the on screen sequences well and cinematography gracefully keeps the movie in the category of erotica only, avoiding stepping on to the obvious offensive path of a cheap comedy. Having a perfectly recommended cast by Mukesh Chhabra, it has a fine lead performance played by Rahul Bagga. Still the film actually scores more through its enjoyable supportive acts from a talented cast ensemble including the debutant Tara Alisha.

    As a director Akhilesh successfully gives the film a realistic small- town feel, with all lively characters. But yes, he could have given Rajaram a better depth, making him more mysterious as well as expressive providing some additional entertaining moments and a more colourful feel to the project. Because at present his character does seem to be quite dull for a non-existing, exciting porn writer.

    To end it on a positive note, MASTRAM is surely an effort to be applauded due to three basic reasons.

    One, for making an original Hindi film based on a fictional biography which has been rarely tried in Indian Cinema.

    Two, for not going the cheap GRAND MASTI way (disgracing the female actors), whereas that was the most easy and fruitful path to be followed resulting in much bigger returns.

    And Three, for some extremely well designed series of posters with a delightful display of creativity using no images at all but just silhouette figures of pen, a nib and a girl.

  3. Please read this review at http://moviereviewsbybinduc.blogspot.in/2014/05/mastram.html

    Mastram is a person's story who fancies himself as a great writer and who desperately wants to become a famous writer but ends up writing titillating stories with a pseudonym Mastram. His stories find way to the wayside book vendors where his books are bought discreetly by people spanning all age groups. Mastram is humorous but bundled with the apathy of a writer that makes us laugh but also urges us to empathize the dreams of Rajaram (Rahul Bagga). The film successfully portrays the so-called conservative societies which has a taboo towards the word 'sex', but actually relish sleaze. This film also funnily portrays the visionary in Mastram who proclaims that one day this will be common. This is inspired by the story of anonymous author of popular pulp fiction and sex stories in Hindi (known as Mastram), whose books were sold at railway station stalls and small roadside and pavement shops in North India during 1980-90s. So, it is a kind of fictional semi- autobiography.

    The movie begins with a scene in a hostel room where a few boys are reading a porn book. Then the frame changes to the year 1989 (somewhere in Himachal Pradesh), where a groom Rajaram Vaishnava aka Hans is going along with his uncle in Baraat. He reluctantly expresses to his uncle that he is not keen to get married since he wants to pursue his M. Phil in Hindi Literature from JNU, Delhi. Uncle tries to convince him saying that his would be bride Renu (Tara Alisha Berry) is beautiful, she would take care of him, also cook great food viz. mutton for him. Ultimately Rajaram gets married to Renu. Though initially Rajaram is hesitant to even look at Renu, but slowly they develop their bond. Renu seems to be a simple lady and 'sorted-out' in life. She encourages Rajaram to pursue his dream of being a writer. On the spur of a moment, Rajaram leaves his job as a clerk in a bank and starts looking out for publishing agencies to get his novel published. Ultimately he reaches Shivshankar Publications, but his work is shunned by them and the reason given for rejection was that his work is missing 'masala'.

    Rajaram tries to decode the word 'masala' from his friend Mahesh, and companion old Chacha that what this 'masala' is all about and when he understands, there starts his journey as a writer with pseudonym Mastram. He starts writing erotic pornographic stories taking cues from his surroundings viz. Yauvan ki pahli Baarish. Mastram books sell like hot cakes in the market.

    Rajaram sees success as Mastram but he is unable to even share his published books with wife or friends due to the 'taboo' topic he is handling and fearing society's condemnation which always wants others to be 'virtuous'.

    He could convince his publisher to publish one of his 'good' work – Man ki Vilochana which he thought he could share with his people.

    Does Man ki Vilochana turn out to be a best seller? Does Mastram continue writing porn-stories ? What happens when his wife and other friends / acquaintances understand that Rajaram and Mastram are one person ? This unconventional movie is very much originally presented.

    Director Akhilesh Jaiswal deserves a great applause for projecting this unconventional story of Mastram. Rahul Bagga shines as Rajaram aka Mastram. His various facial expressions of shyness, passion, having a naughty smile on his face (on understanding that his work is read by people), vulnerability etc. are all done with utmost perfection. Tara Alisha as Renu is also very good, she completely justifies her character. All supporting cast have also done great work.

  4. The message it tries to convey is a solid one. I have to pat Akhilesh Jaiswal in the back for coming up with such a daring venture: to talk about porn writing of the 80s/90s when there was no easy access to kinky/imaginative porn. But then, when I dived into the execution, I think I'll limit to a hand shake.

    There are no background score & sounds. And the dialogs & ounces of audio it has is either precise or garbled, failing to keep the audience hooked with the respect to the video it accompanies. The narration is shoddy. The story is about an aspiring writer who ends up being the anonymous mastermind, only known as Mastram, behind the locally popular porn comics. His life goes upside down when competition and opposition from the society drives him into paranoia. The lead actor does good work but I am more impressed with the actress who plays his sweet, innocent wife. Supporting cast is fine.

    Screenplay is a tad slow but as the plot advances, the pace keeps up. Coming to sex, there is not much graphically; verbal references maybe cringe-worthy for some but I can tell you they are bold enough and funny, at times. Very poor handling of cinematography, editing, sound mixing, and art/setup departments. Publicity was amazing but the final result is lackluster, owing to the theme it talks about. Even the 2-3 sex/foreplay sequences are extremely mild and let me not talk about the camera work in these sequences.

    Not that I was expecting porn (literally), but when you adopt porn writing as a subject, a little boldness is appreciated by the audience if not the censor board. The trivial humor saves the day and the climax paves the way for thoughts, which is why this experimental indie is an average potboiler.

    BOTTOM LINE: Give it a try when it is released to home media.

    Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO

    Porn: Mediocre (no visuals) | Foreplay: Mild | Nudity: Mild | Vulgarity: very Mild

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