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Masaba Masaba review: The captivating lives of two feisty, sparkling women wasted in an underwhelming drama

Release Date: 28 Aug 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

The semi-fictionalized web-series fails to capture the richness of the lives and experiences of the mother-daughter duo of Neena and Masaba Gupta.

One tends to think that the lives of celebrities are as glamorous and glossy as their perfect selfies, but the new Netflix show, Masaba Masaba, puts a pin in that balloon, taking us into the semi-fictionalized world of actress Neena Gupta and her daughter, fashion designer Masaba Gupta.

From the glamorous world of film and fashion, we are taken into the everyday lives of celebrities, exploring their everyday problems, insecurities and fears as they manoeuvre themselves in their very public lives. The six-part series refreshingly features celebrities making fun of themselves — be it actress Kiara Advani looking for a designer outfit for a cleanliness drive, choreographer Farah Khan obsessing over her diet and playing the savvy director, the pretentious artist who basically sells crap for ridiculous amounts of money, the sneering double-faced critics, and others.

There is such rich material here. Masaba mentions living in the shadow of her mother and has her relationship and business woes, while Neena lives life between two cities, juggles home and scouting for meaty roles, supports her daughter’s work as much as she can, and navigates the sexist attitude of men, star tantrums, sycophancy, ageist attitudes and more. Sadly, however, the writing fails to weave the material into a compelling drama. What we get instead is a superficial, tentative narrative.

The series also assumes that we already know a lot about the central characters and thus they appear almost free-floating, without a rootedness in their past.

Incidents from real life intersect in the series, especially in the ways in which social media posts are used and the optics of an event are crucial. In fact, the digital terrain is a big part of the web-series and is foregrounded with screens that show us the messages being typed, which deadens the pace and is, frankly, boring.

In her first acting gig, Masaba is on firm footing, but I found myself looking forward to seeing more of Neena’s story. With her characteristic flair and ease, she effortlessly glides through the series, looking uber-fashionable and poised, lighting up the screen with her presence. Seriously, is there anything Neena Gupta can’t do?

However, there are a few underwhelming performances and ill-conceived characters. The character of the artist Jogi (Smaran Sandhu) appears terribly random and while Pooja Bedi as the therapist is clearly intended for humour, her performance just doesn’t work.

Sex And The City is a clear inspiration for moments in the show and there are instances of humour, fun and honesty that shine through, but the series only skims the surface in the exceptional lives of two successful women who seize the bull by its horns rather than give up. We only see their formidable, admirable, feisty spirit in dribs and drabs, which is an annoyingly wasted opportunity.

Masaba Masaba is now available on Netflix.

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