Streaming on Netflix, ‘Masaba Masaba’ – starring Neena Gupta and her designer daughter Masaba – cashes in on our nosiness about the glitzy lives of those in the public eye. And the fact that both Neena and Masaba Gupta, are women who have had far from conventional lives, only serves as the cherry on top. The six-episode series is created and produced by Ashwini Yardi, directed by Sonam Nair, and written by Punya Arora, Nandini Gupta, Sonam, and Anupama Ramachandran.
Despite the name appearing twice in the title, ‘Masaba Masaba’ is not a vanity project by the celebrity fashion designer that it could have very well been. Instead, it opens with Masaba’s marriage to musician Vinay (played by Satyadeep Mishra) coming to an end, an adapted parallel to real-life Masaba’s divorce from film producer Madhu Mantena last year.
She is a successful designer and businesswoman but her life as we see soon enough, is a ‘hot mess’, something that also goes on to inspire her future collection on the show. There are prospective suitors Manav and Jogi (Tanuj Virwani and Smaran Sahu), an overbearing investor, Dhairya Rana (Neil Bhoopalam) driving her up the wall, celebrity clients who want matching Masaba outfits for their dogs, and employees who need to be paid on time.
The series takes a winning stand when it consciously chooses to dive away from Masaba’s ethnicity, given India’s known fixation with race and heritage. Surely, it was not easy being a child of mixed racial parentage in the ’80s and ’90s or being a single parent in the same era, but apart from one passing dialogue or a fleeting scene, that idea is never fully explored and the series doesn’t dwell on it, at all. While this may seem like a lack of emotional depth, or a creative decision to keep things light-hearted, it is just one of the many other things that makes ‘Masaba Masaba’, realistic. Because to be fair, it is quite unlikely that a mother and daughter would sit and discuss or mull over the past amidst all their other personal and professional commitments.
Neena Gupta – as always – is fabulous even when playing a fictionalised version of herself. She seems to be enjoying her second act in the business and it is a pleasure to see her outdo herself with every character she takes on. The surprise package here, however, is Masaba. She too plays a dramatized version of her real-life self and is at absolute ease in front of the camera for a debutant. She turns in a natural and unaffected performance almost as if she were born for the silver screen.