Mastram the film left me confused. The books which were popular much before I would have been interested in them, were gripping nonetheless when I actually read them years later. Walking along a thin line of erotica and downright porn, Mastram books were a guilty pleasure many enjoyed. Sadly, the film on this delightful piece of nostalgia is underwhelming on many counts. Neither is this erotica, nor is it explicitly porn,and most importantly, it does lip service to the life and psyche of the man behind these stories.
Rajaram dreams of writing novels. Armed with an M.A. in Hindi he is shattered when his “literary” attempts fail to garner a publisher. He finds to his surprise his skill at writing erotica getting him ahead as a writer though. It pays well, he is published and the public laps up every edition of his fantasies with titles like “kanti bhai ka lolypop”. Things go sour though when he looks too close for inspiration, his own wife and best friend precisely, and things unravel.
Technically the story is a premise that, to use the films own metaphors, ripe with juices. A writer who has to resort to erotica and gets trapped in writing it never able to realise his dream of graduating to higher literature. A man coming to terms with the fact that he writes stuff all read in their privacy but would look down upon when in public. What goes on in the mind of a porn writer, how does he view the world around him? None of these questions are explored beyond the superficial wistful look at teenage fantasies through mastrams stories.
That the film infact does a lot. Objectify women without actually fleshing out the inner functioning of Rajaram is what thefilm does best. Abrupt jumps in events in his lives result in only the sleaze (thankfully tasteful in keeping with Mastram the books) coming out prominently. That is a let down since in today’s world a lot more is available much easily; one doesn’t really need to watch a film to get excited.
Mastram is slavaged by some fine performances though. Rahul Bagga and Tara both shine, despite the trite storyline and put life into the proceedings. Yet, is this worth spending money in a multiplex? I would say no. Watch it in the privacy of your homes. And make sure you have a copy of Mastram to make up for what the film does not deliver.