Masaba Masaba, directed by Sonam Nair, is a fictionalised show based on the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and also their individual dynamics with the outside world. Starring the iconic Neena Gupta, playing a version of herself, along with her real and reel daughter, debutant Masaba Gupta, again playing herself. A show that claims to be fictionalised, also seems like a docu-fiction, while taking the coming of age route. Masaba Gupta surprisingly seems amazing with her screen presence, but all the credit for that goes to her amazing mother, the legendary Neena Gupta.
The show starts off with an Instagram story upload. It immediately takes us in the world of stardom where getting eyeballs onto yourself is all part of the job. Designer Masaba Gupta is choosing what to wear for an award show she has to attend the following night. Immediately, everybody’s phone starts buzzing with a forward saying “Blind Items”. This time, the rumour is hinting about Masaba’s divorce, with her husband Vinay (Satyadeep Mishra). Though fictionalised, this seems very close to the actual case about her divorce with ex-husband, and producer Madhu Mantena. She disses the blind item, like every other celebrity who knows it is about them, but well, rumours play their part really well, they spread like wild fire.
On the other hand, we meet Neena Gupta, and from the start we can see the kind of fun she has playing somebody quite like herself on screen. She is almost 60, and she has found this as her time to be adventurous. Getting a tattoo, going swimming and learning how to drive are some of the items on her list. Other than that, she is planning to re-launch herself. From the beginning itself, there are enough scripting conveniences and made up circumstances for both these women to portray their skills, and more than the mother, it’s the daughter that takes you buy surprise as she seems a complete natural in front of a camera.
The show is created by Ashwini Yardi, and directed by Sonam Nair. The first season consists of six episodes. Written by Punya Arora, Nandini Gupta, Anupama Ramchandran and Nair herself, the story offers enough humour for the characters, while also having a Sex in the City-esque first person internal voice overs for Masaba, where we can hear what she is thinking, literally.
The story feels very conveniently written, at least the Masaba part of it. The men in her life are very strategically placed, and given her character trait of being non-confrontational and irritated, we know things are bound to go wrong with each one of them. There’s a sleazy ex-boyfriend, compassionate ex-husband, a socially awkward boss and a hippie indie artist. Not only does Masaba become recently single, but that affects her work, and because of that, changes her overall life. She has a bittersweet relationship with her mother, which starts with her being cool, but unapologetic Neena Gupta will take none of it, and soon, she realises her mistakes. It’s a rather interesting plot line, with an inspiring message, which loses its impact with the way it is delivered.
The cameos, which are a huge part of the show, feel very staged. It might have been the intention of the creators, but they come off particularly awkward. Kiara Advani’s rendition of a typical sobo snobbish actress and also Shibani Dandekar being this overtly pretentious artist feel completely unnecessary and rather irritating. Farah Khan as well, who plays herself, a director obsessed with losing weight, also adds absolutely nothing to the screenplay. These characters may have been great on paper, but their translation on screen may not have done justice.
However, the show’s main leads steal the show away with their performances. For Masaba, if this is how she was to be launched, she seems to have done complete justice looking extremely natural and effortless on screen. Neena Gupta, a legend herself, contributes to some of the best moments within the show, may it be a glimpse of her rather popular film ‘Badhai Ho’ or her just being an unapologetically brave mother. A 60-year-old woman struggling to find work in a male dominated industry is a great arc to portray and with the actress’ prowess, there should’ve been more of it.
Season 1 of Masaba Masaba ends with one bunch of problems solved, rather quickly, in the span of one episode, but hinting with more to come. The subtle messaging does come out well, though the route it takes feels rather shallow, but we need to wait and watch what more does this show have in store.