If you have dreams in your eyes, which look extremely difficult to achieve, then this MASKA will fascinate you. If you love the old world charm and while travelling to any big city, instead of going to the fancy restaurants you look for old style café’s then MASKA will fascinate you. If you have Parsi friends and you love hanging out with them, then Maska will give you a short glimpse of their lives.
Parsi Dhansak and Simple Stories sell well
Manisha Koirala charms the audiences from her very first dialogue and appearance as a Parsi mother. Her Parsi accent sounds authentic and not like the fake Punjabi accent of Boman Irani as a Sardar in Lage Raho Munnabhai. Her come back as character actress and not as a heroine is much appreciated. A valid transition of an actor from an A grade heroine to a character actress is a sign of maturity for any aging actor.
There are only 60,000 odd Parsis left in India and most of them live in Mumbai and Gujarat. Parsis are considered rich, intelligent and beautiful Dhansak loving people. Basing the film in a Parsi family is indeed a novelty, not seen before in a long time. Projecting Parsis as protagonists as a thought in itself is so humble. I once thought of making a film on Parsis. There’s so much unspoken and unsaid about the Parsis community, which the rest must know. Manisha Koirala’s dialogue as a mother to her son “Ye tere papa ke haath hain. Ye Iran se India ek special talent leke aaye the” briefly sums up the history of all Parsis in India.
Simple stories like Maska were commonly acceptable on TV in the 90’s. Now, that space has taken over by the OTTs. Maska is such super simple story, which even without high climax and a simple problem-simple solution formula, it makes you feel sympathetic, it makes you feel like solving the problem of your lives, it makes you introspect your dreams vis-a-vis your realities.
Predictable stories can work as well and that is visible in Maska. Although the story is very predictable from the very beginning and you clearly know that Rumi will finally not sell his café to pursue his dream of becoming a Bollywood actor, you still keep watching the film for its simplicity.
Look out for Old World Charm in reality
After watching the series, those of you who wish to visit the Rustom café must not go to Mumbai in search of the café but try and find such old charm cafes in your own city. Go to Pune’s very popular Kayani Bakery, which has a strong legacy of its own. Incidentally that is also run by the Parsis and visited by all. I personally have always bought the walnut cakes from Kayani Bakery during all my Pune trips. In Bangalore, on Church Street, India Coffee House gives you that same relief. Old visitors of ICH in Bangalore still remember its old location on MG Road which was triple in size than what it is now. In the same lane of Kayani Bakery is a Parsi restaurant on the first floor where you can go and eat Parsi delicacies like Patrani Machhi and Dhansak.
Some acceptable flaws
A young Parsi boy Rumi played by Prit Kamani as an auditioning struggling actor scolding the casting director Abhishek Banerjee and telling him that his auditioning process is a scam, is indeed a radical thought. But in reality none of the struggling actors have the guts to scold the casting agents or casting directors. All the actors crib about the casting directors only behind their backs but always remain polite in front of them.
Rumi Irani and Nitika Dutta’s charming looks can’t really hold the attention of the viewers for a very long time. While watching the series, I could actually check all my important WhatsApp messages.
The slow paced music doesn’t fit well when Rumi bakes at his café and surprises her mother with his baking skills for the first time. The scene demanded huge attention. That’s the time when a son agrees to take the legacy of his father and grandfather forward.
Why does the film director who promises work to Rumi in his upcoming film look like a fraud in all the scenes? The film director shouting at Rumi for his bad acting skills is something unrealistic. No filmmaker will ever dare to shout at an actor like this, who is also supposedly the producer of the film.
“Urdu me table ko tallafuzz kahte hain”. This is the dumbest comic dialogue ever heard or written. But yes, new actors do come up with weirdest of pronunciation and acting mistakes.
Why should you watch Maska?
Watch Maska if you are a diehard struggler in any field, watch Maska if you are related to the film industry, watch Maska if you want to or wanted to become an actor? Watch Maska if you have a well-established family business and do not want to continue that.
Watch Maska if you have been a fan of India coffee house at the terrace of Mohan Singh Palace in Delhi’s heart Connaught Place, or coffee home just opposite the Hanuman Mandir in CP, Kayani Bakery opposite the Rajkumar cinema at MG Road in Pune, Koshy’s restaurant in Bangalore at the crossing of St. Marks Road, or even if you have been frequent at the original Keventers take away café in CP’s A block. All these eateries have a strong legacy and history.
The idea of a coffee table book on Rustam café presented by Persis to Rumi, which finally changes his heart, came as a very pleasant surprise. Although as an audience you could see her taking the pictures and making videos on the café, but it was completely unpredictable idea which worked fantastically in favor of the film makers. Switching on all the old four blade fans by Rumi after he denies the sale of his café and reclaims its possession, is a crazy shot taken from the top and to show that the Rustam café is not going anywhere but is here to stay. You feel connected and relaxed as an audience. If the legacy of a place goes away, it disheartens not only the owners but also the visitors who invest their time, trust and love into the place.
Rumi’s self-confession and a philosophical response in the end “Har sapna sach nahi hota! Main actor banna chahta tha par main actor hoon nahi” sounds preachy but that’s what Indian audience requires. Straight lessons from the chapter, very much like in a text book. Being an actor director, I have seen many aspiring actors in my life who turned to their other pursuits and businesses but never made such honest and humble confessions that they actually lacked talents and the depth of pursuing their dreams.
Ikigai-Japanese concept! Was also explained well by Rumi. Mera Bun-Maska mera ikigai hai. Identifying your own strengths and where your heart lies is important in one’s life instead of chasing impractical dreams. Also, how to present a break up decently and how this generation can actually learn the art than being rude to each other is presented nicely! They can definitely learn it from Maska of how to openly communicate and not hurt your partner in the process. Blocking each other on WhatsApp or Fb is the most rubbish way after a fruitful and intense relationship. It kind of ruins the beautiful times you have spent together.
Keeping the legacies alive
The same case of Delhi’s 70 year old Keventers Café was also such heartbreaking move for thousands of visitors. Only very few know that the original Keventers were and are only two in Delhi, one in the corner of A Block and the second one in Anand Vihar, run by the cousin brothers. Now after the sale or dispute closure of the franchise, they can no more use the brand Keventers and the ones who use the name with élan are not the real creators of this decades old legacy.
Keeping such strong legacies alive is a tough job and that’s what the audiences can actually constructively take away from this film.
A must watch for all the struggling actors and dreamers
In response to a pertinent question asked by Rumi’s friend Pseris “Are you a good actor?” Young Romi talks about his certificate as an actor! This is a harsh reality of youngsters who think that having a certificate is a proof of talent in anything. And planting this scene shows the maturity level of the writer-director. Well done!
This is therefore a must watch film for all the struggling actors, who want to make it big in the dream city of Mumbai. It is important for the actors to know their strengths and weaknesses instead of treating Bollywood as a gambling casino to try out their luck for a jackpot.
“To pursue your dreams, you have to sell your hard earned property and not the property of your parents” is another learning conveyed very well through the film.
The profound question “if you are happy in whatever you are doing”, has been dealt well in the film.
Film critic Kamal Pruthi Kabuliwala