‘Some days you wake up feeling great, looking amazing. Today is not that kinda day! Today I need my photos like I need my coffee...Filtered.’ Early on in the show, celebrated designer and lead protagonist of this semi-autobiographical show - Masaba Gupta - writes this on her Instagram and that’s when we know, this show is going to be a real and relatable ‘hot mess.’
Masaba plays the titular role in the Netflix show Masaba Masaba, following in the footsteps of famous television characters like Seinfield, Louie, and most recently, Ramy.
Created by Ashwini Yardi and directed by Sonam Nair, this six-episode docu-drama is a roller-coaster ride of the ups and downs in the designer’s life, told in her signature bold and quirky style. She is ably supported by her mother and iconic actor Neena Gupta, who plays herself - headstrong and straightforward.
Rytasha Rathore, Neil Bhoopalam, Pooja Bedi, and Smaran Sahu, are also seen in pivotal roles.
Celebrating the unfiltered reality of women
The first episode Rumour Has It opens with a dishevelled Masaba in a red gown, walking furiously on the streets. Soon after, we realise it’s because of a ‘blind item’ on her shaky marriage with her musician husband that’s being talked about by everyone from her mother to celebrities in tinsel town.
It most likely draws reference from her real-life divorce with producer Madhu Mantena last year, but the way the story unfolds keeps you on the edge. In fact, Masaba announces the news of her separation on Instagram, blending in with the playful and breezy nature of the show.
Unlike other shows that portray women as ‘victims’, Masaba Masaba celebrates women just the way they are, and it is this quality that wins you over. She’s sassy, unapologetic and way too honest (for several men), but that’s what makes Masaba stand out more than ever.
The screenplay, by the all-women team of Sonam Nair, Nandini Gupta and Anupama Ramachandran, is marked by light humour. Some scenes do feel unmistakably scripted, but well, every show does have a few shortcomings, and we’ve made our peace with that.
Also Read: Neena Gupta speaks to MAKERS India
The dialogues by Punya Arora are ‘lit’ - when Masaba tells her investor (played by Neil Bhoopalam) that ‘creativity is not a tap that I can just turn on’, it gives you all the feels. Or when she says ‘Enough of the talking, I am going to face my problems now’, you just can’t stop rooting for this designer, who, is also an effortless actor.
Of mothers and daughters
One of the most lovable aspects of the show is the endearing relationship between Masaba and her mother Neena Gupta. Whether they squabble, discuss their lives, or stand by each other, every scene will remind you of the special bond that mothers and daughters share. Their lives might be glamorous; but away from the arc lights, they are just like any of us!
There are several instances in the show that will warm your heart - when a teary-eyed Masaba lands at Neena Gupta’s house and the latter she offers to pacify her with her favourite paratha, or when the ace designer reshares an Instagram post that her mother has put up, asking for work despite not speaking to each other after a riff.
What is most relatable is that both mother and daughter do not lead picture-perfect lives, even in the show. Both Neena and Masaba have been vocal about their real-life struggles, and it is this honesty that reflects in the show too. Masaba’s struggles as an entrepreneur, and Neena’s efforts to bag roles in cinema “at this age,” are a revelation for those who think that celebrities have perfect lives. Even a national award winning actress and a designer known for her versatility have to explain themselves way too many times; because, alas, that’s what the world does to women!
Masaba, the actor
Writing about Masaba Masaba will be incomplete without pointing out what an actor Masaba is. She does not come across as a debutant and there is no over-acting; after all, she is living (part of) her life on the screen. It is probably her mother’s genes; but Masaba in Masaba Masaba does not sound superficial for one second – whether she is flirting with a man or fighting with one, or even when she cusses at a house-broker in frustration. Yes, there’s a lot of eye-rolling and hand-wringing; but by the end of it, you’ll love Masaba for the ‘hot mess’ she is!
(Edited by Athira Nair)