5 reasons why we loved binge-watching Masaba Masaba
Netflix's Masaba Masaba is a much-needed breath of fresh air betwixt the shitshow this year has been. Masaba Gupta - the designer, entrepreneur, and her actor mother, Neena Gupta play themselves in the show and even though we all notice how natural they are in front of the camera it still borders on the fictional version of their lives, oft dramatised but never untrue. The disparity of just a documentary to a completely dramatised show, this one walks the path right in the middle of the two formats also making this a novel venture for an Indian show.
Directed and Screenplay by Sonam Nair, Produced by Ashwini Yardi, the 6 episode-series run by an all-woman team is filled with talented actors playing roles that are probably exaggerated, albeit not too unbelievable. Roles like those of Pooja Bedi's, Rytasha Rathore, Neil Bhoopalam, Smaran Sahu and cameos by Farah Khan, Mithila Palkar, Kiara Advani, were all brain-teaser for the many lives and guises of the industry.
Our expectations from the show and the protagonist playing the lead role probably had us wondering if tea would be spilt a-la Madhur Bhandarkar's Blockbuster Fashion. Either nothing is a surprise anymore, or the angle of humanising the lives of Mumbai's creative lot (for a change, not movie stars) was refreshing.
According to a binge-watcher and lover of chick-flicks, let's decode why I think you should watch the show:
Whether it's handling a divorce or very real emotions, it feels empathetic almost. Of course, not all our issues revolve around having to spend lakhs on a repainted iron, but the oft frivolousness of having to deal with self-doubt, denial, independence, pirated designs, assumptions, critique, unresolved issues, financial instability, survival was ALL there.
The whole point of the show is a woman's angle at being mixed-race with unconventional looks and choices of life and what seems like a shot at the constant realization and acceptance is very much evident throughout the series. The appearance of a young-Masaba (played by the adorable Amairah Awatenye) was something we have all felt when confronted with grown-up situations and wanting to go back to being carefree and childlike.
The conflicting emotions for Masaba to behave like a professional when confronted with her ex-husband's new girlfriend hit close-to-home, otherwise, acting out over by leaving the house over a believable argument deemed the mother-daughter relationship a human angle, minus the comedy - IRL
No secret that Neena Gupta, the National-Award Winner was a charmer with her gentle and impactful onscreen presence but for Masaba, it almost felt like one can almost picture her life in her words much like her acting - candid, quirky and natural.
My personal favourite - Rytasha Rathore and Masaba's BFF-realness did not seem far from believable where support and tough love was all in place. Neil Bhoopalam's peculiarity with how he runs his business, turn to a clueless father or a hopeless flirt was intriguing to experience.
To pinpoint the details in each character and their dedication to the role all seemed to have a backstory; the idolising and diligent assistant Masaba who is the window to her independence, or Neena Gupta's maid being an equally vocal member of the house, even the littlest roles all seemed to fit a purpose and we appreciate the fine-print (pun intended!).
"Hot Mess" is what the show is building up to and it managed to stay close to the theme well. The daily struggles of looking for an apartment as a socialite+divorcee+woman and being able to navigate through each episode with reliance on creativity, yet being silly with her life-choices was intriguing. Sure, the designer daughter and actor mother's life isn't perfect, but being open to vulnerability and acceptance was a special treat rather than having to be saved by a typical climax to the series. The BFF being able to give it straight to her about having to complain about a poor man's gold almost had us cheering in agreement.
WE might take years to realise our flaws and turn them into our biggest strengths, but the candidness of the show overhauling skipping to the good parts (in one day) was a bit farfetched nonetheless full-circle. Masaba being given the (believable) facts by shrink had it all come together, unequivocally.
It wouldn't be wrong to point out if we say that this show valued the perseverance and independence of a woman. Neena Gupta living in another city, away from her husband to find work, learning to drive, accepting her age, or even the vulnerability of seeking roles by asking, is a testament to a woman's ability to decide for herself. Hard work pays off with Neena Gupta bagging a role that relaunched her into Bollywood, in actuality! Tying it up seamlessly with a role from the movie Badhaai Ho was harmonious to watch.
Whereas, for the daughter, moving on from a broken marriage and stepping into liberation while being answerable to her employees is a fresh take on the life of an independent, procrastinating woman.
Let's not forget - after a star-studded yet wrecked fashion-show, being able to withstand beratement by the investors showed Masaba's stint with professional criticism like a boss. Power of manifestation, y'all!
The show might have its fair share of air-kisses and the glittery life of the elite who would strut about the whole day in heels and there was still a sense of eccentricity in the maturity of the camaraderie. The audience has grown from watching the run-of-the-mill romance endings from a fraction of a person's life. The audacity of the show to normalise aspects of holding a job, managing personal life, living under the shadow of a star or even just looking nothing like the regular actors onscreen, Masaba Masaba takes you through a happy version of troubled adulthood. As much as we see Masaba Gupta in her actual life, she seems to be on a journey of self-acceptance, much like in the show. Having to cruise through life with self-realization and hanging by the hook of sheer creative credibility did not keep the protagonist from making mistakes.
In Conclusion, this show is definitely one-time binge-watch worthy. Almost missing "breaking the fourth wall" bit in this series where an actor talks into the camera, vis-a-viz Fleabag on Prime Video, the format of the show was still easy and flowy. Cringey moments did crop up where predictability of a situation was dragged on, despite which the storyline oftentimes surprised us with some twists and turns. Sure, we expected Smaran Sahu to smoulder the screen (thank you!) but the sombreness of Neil Bhoopalam was entangled in a 'will they-won't they' rendezvous ending in a surprising idiosyncratic uncertainly.
No, I do not want to give away the ending! Although there's so much more to delve deeper into the block-print-expert, we say keep the seasons coming!