He bedecks railway bookstalls across the country and introduced many generations of India’s youth (male, at least) to the idea of sexuality. The pulp fiction and sex story writer Mastram, is now ready to cast a spell on the city screens at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival. Akhilesh Jaiswal, the filmmaker who decided to make an eponymous film on the cult figure tries to underscore the supposed man behind the mask.
“The idea to make a film on Mastram came to me when I was in the 11th or 12th standard, as the book was a rage in our age group since the 9th standard,” shares Jaiswal whose claim to fame rests upon his scriptwriting skills for Gangs of Wasseypur. It’s perhaps reason why the Bhopal-born writer is able to understand and reflect the social milieu and aspirations of B-towns.
What is astounding is that Mastram, a pen name has no man behind it or at least is impossible to trace. “This film is a fictional biopic of Mastram. The research for the film was extremely difficult as there is no mention of a publishing house on the book, let alone an address. Book suppliers were the only leads. But as the book has progressed over the years, there must be multiple writers behind the pen name,” tells the debutante director who decided to concentrate on the foremost figure who started it all.
The twist Jaiswal has introduced is that the imagined writer aspires to write ‘high brow’ literary fiction or in simple words become Premchand but he ends up getting recognised for his sex stories. Bitten by the film bug in his own words, the dreamer in Jaiswal excused himself from Bhopal on the pretext of pursuing Bachelors in Mass Media in Mumbai. “I only studied for a year after which I got bored and quit,” recounts a peevish voice. Nudging the creek of the conversation, “What did he like in Mastram in the first place?” was put across. In a repartee-like fashion, “The way he very slowly revealed details,” is the teaser we got.