Web Series: Masaba Masaba
Cast: Masaba Gupta, Neena Gupta, Neil Bhoopalam, Satyadeep Misra, Rytasha Rathore, Suchitra Pillai
Director: Sonam Nair
Creator: Ashvini Yardi
Rating: 3.5 Moons
(The review is based on the first two episodes of a six-part series)
As a teenager, Masaba Gupta was dissuaded by her mother Neena Gupta from pursuing acting as a career. At 31, Masaba, a renowned fashion designer who is responsible for giving a glamourous touch to celebrities for their red-carpet appearances and important events, is sharing the screen space with Neena in Netflix’s Masaba Masaba. A scripted series directed by Sonam Nair and created by Ashvini Yardi, Masaba and Neena play the fictionalised versions of themselves.
Taking a leaf out of Masaba’s and Neena’s personal life with a scripted backdrop, Masaba Masaba doesn’t preach, rather allows the grey areas to shine. Without sugar-coating the journey of hot-mess Masaba, the series opens to how she deals with rumours of divorce while she is yet to process the sudden turbulence in her personal life. As a storm is brewing inside Masaba’s head, she has to wear the mask of ‘all is well’ keeping in mind her stature in society. She stolidly hides her worries but subconsciously, she is affected emotionally. While she leaves no stone unturned to mend her relationship with her husband Vinay (Satyadeep Misra), he is adamant to part ways soon. Holding herself strong, yet showing vulnerability, Masaba relies on her mother Neena for emotional stability.
Neena, as Masaba’s mother, listens to all her silences with patience and becomes the biggest anchor of her ship that is sailing through a personal crisis. Her relationship with Masaba will remind you of your mother who will love you unconditionally on one hand and be your nagging critic the next minute.
Neena comes across a woman who is hell-bent on reviving her lost career. A living example of ‘age is just a number’, Neena is someone who knows how to be unapologetic, strong and take the situation into her hand when needed. On the flip side of the coin, she is the typical desi mother who bargains with sabziwale bhaiyya while she shows excitement to meet a director for a film. Hoping to learn swimming and driving, getting a tattoo and bagging the ‘main role in a film’, she is unapologetically cool. Balancing between career and family, Neena holds her own ground.
Sonam does a commendable job at directing Masaba Masaba. The show takes the road less explored in India and brings out the reality hidden behind the gloss and glamour. The show, like Masaba and Neena is fun, spontaneous, real and enjoyable.
Writing by Sonam, Nandini Gupta and Anupama Ramchandran allow room for enough laughter and tongue-in-cheek humour. Sans the melodrama that forms the core of documentaries and real-life stories, Masaba Masaba gets a fun twist and thanks to the ladies for keeping it easy, breezy and fresh. They have managed to incorporate real-life problems and controversies effectively but in a fictionalised manner. The use of scenes where Masaba’s mini-version is seen in flashes proves that the designer, somewhere deep down in her mind, is moulded in a certain manner due to her past. She asking for parathas post coming home after parting ways with her husband is metaphorical with stability and primitiveness that she finds at home, in her mother’s comfort. However, the cameos of Kiara Advani and Pooja Bedi seem unnecessary to the narrative.
Dialogues by Punya Arora are a winner here. While Masaba has to wear of mask of modesty to please industry friends, her real feelings put across with the help of voiceovers are bang on perfect. They are sarcastic, hilarious and relatable. The barrier between the reel and real has been blurred to a certain extent.
But...where was Masaba, the actor, hidden for so long? The designer turned actor nails her act in her debut and allows the viewers to take a sneak peek into her life that has been surrounded since the day she was born. Her boredom, vulnerability, emotions, anger, etc come across clearly. Her chemistry with mother Neena is the USP. Neena is nothing but pure delight. From applying anti-aging face packs to bargaining with vegetable vendors, you have seen a person like her in your home. Being in her own fun element, Neena is undoubtedly the heart of the show while Masaba is the voice.
Shruti Bora’s editing is crisp. She leaves no scope for a dull moment to seek into a sharp narrative. Costumes by Eka Lakhani add value to the story. She uses when Masaba parts ways with her husband communicating heightened emotion and beginning of a new adventure. The subtle symbolism says a lot. Director of Photography Aditya Kapur captures beautiful frames into his creative lens.
Masaba Masaba is a refreshing change from crime-thrillers that are dominating the digital forum. A show that can be binge-watched with mothers and gal-pals! It's a show that doesn’t preach but is relatable and portrays women (particularly Masaba and Neena) as the force who are ready to own their triumphs and defeats in equal measure. However, a purely non-fictionalised version would have added more gravitas.
PeepingMoon.com gives Masaba Masaba 3.5 Moons