Must masturbate mentally … Must read more intellectually stimulating porn … Must sex-educate the self through pulp fiction of the sleaziest kind … Must update self on the birds and the bees… Because life’s a b***h and love is a fantasy between (book) covers and because ‘Mastram’ says it’s a ‘must’! Yes, Mastram was India’s Shakespeare of sleaze, the bard of the bawdy who controlled all the mind-fornication there was, that held all of North India in its ‘jerky’ grip through the 80s.
Rajaram (Rahul), a M.A in Hindi, quits his bank job in Manali to pursue his dream of being a novelist. He finds support only in his sanskari wife (Tara), and even after desperate attempts, all publishers reject his literary work because his kahanis have the matter but lack the ‘meat’. Realizing that sex sells like hot samosas and lust ‘whets’ hungry minds over literature, the struggling Premchand in him begins churning out porn-packed in-paperbacks, under the pseudonym of ‘Mastram’.
His lurid stories (‘Baniye Ka Lollipop’, ‘Sheela Ka Yowan’) discreetly called ‘woh-wali kitaab’ becomes a best-seller. But what happens when the covers are pulled off his identity and he’s exposed as the man who sells sexual fantasies for a living?
Jaiswal’s premise is different and daring; he bares the hypocrisies of a society that shames, silences and devours sex – all in the same breath (ahh!). Even the typography of the title symbolizes a male organ, but the film is far from pornographic. It’s about the psyche and dilemma of a writer torn apart between art and erotica. The problem is the storytelling that’s languid and uninventive for a subject so explorative.
The story lacks stamina, and the background music drags the plot. Rahul’s performance warms up at the start, but his expressions soon get repetitive, and Tara can’t juice the plot that runs dry.
The film that had a lot of potential, but what’s missing is the ‘woh wali baat’.
A fictional biography of a writer who craves to exploit his literary skills, but ends up with creative writing for carnal consumption only. He becomes the hottest name in pornographic pulp fiction.
The Times of India