Set in present day Banaras, the plot of Masaan follows two seemingly separate story arcs that eventually converge.
The first of these tells the story of Devi (Richa Chadda). The film opens with her and her fellow student, Piyush, checking into a hotel room. They are interrupted when the police bursts in, accusing them of indulging in â€œindecent behaviourâ€, and even getting a confession from Devi on videotape. Subsequently, Devi and her family are subjected to blackmail by the police, particularly one Inspector Mishra, who demands a hefty bribe from Vidyadhar Pathak, Devi's father.
The second narrative concerns Deepak (Vicky Kaushal), a young boy (also from Banaras) who belongs to the untouchable Dom caste. As a result, he is forced to work on the Ghats of the Ganga, burning bodies on funeral pyres; he longs to escape this atmosphere of marginalization. Deepak meets and falls in love with Shaalu (Shweta Tripathi), a young girl who belongs to the upper-class Gupta clan, and their difference in caste leads to familial and societal conflicts