On the surface Maska comes off as a story of lost identity and coming of age with some Parsi madness and puppy love thrown in the mix. However, once you get to the core of it, it’s a confusing, predictable and cliche mess.
Neeraj Udhwani’s Maska is about Rumi, a young ambitious Parsi boy who wants to make it big in Bollywood. But his family’s Irani cafe and it’s value it holds for his mother are obstacles in his way. He is torn between his family’s legacy and his individual dream, and it is this journey of his self discovery that the film portrays.
The Verdict: 2/5
Why it deserved the 2/5
1. Manisha Koirala and Javed Jaffery
Manisha Koirala plays Diana Irani, the overbearing Parsi mother. She’s quirky, funny, strong willed and every-mom-ever. The way she has nailed the Parsiness of her character is remarkable, right from the ‘dirko’ to the ‘chutiyo’ Everytime she came on screen I felt like giving her a big hug, she was that adorable. More than her son, (the protagonist) it is her you end up caring about the most towards the end. Javed Jaffery aka Rustom Irani the dead father is a comic delight. Despite having little screen time, he is the most memorable character in the film. He adds humour and comical relief to the film in his typical Jaffrey style. Unfortunately, the lead actors Shirley Sethia and Prit Kamani fail to make their mark on screen. Their acting is average at best and neither carry of the role with conviction. It is Jaffrey and Koirala who carry the movie and are definitely the maska in this very dry bun.
2. The Sheer Parsiness
From the opening scene till the very last dialogue, this movie is bubbling with Bawa-ness. Right from the initial Baug fashion show to the heavily nuanced Irani’s home and the star of it all, the Irani Cafe. The set design and feel of the cafe is presented so well that it absolutely nails what one feels inside a parsi cafe. You can feel the old manager’s eyes on you, hear the ancient ceiling fans creaking, and smell that delicious bun maska and chai. The subtle gradations in the decor just add to the wholesome and homely nostalgia we all have about Irani Cafes.
Why it lost the 3/5
1. Weak, Cliche and Predictable storyline
Honestly speaking, there was not much substance to the story. Rumi’s struggle between the pressure to run his cafe and becoming an actor were shown superficially, his relationship with Mallika (Nikita Dutta) seemed forced and he had a lifelong dream of becoming an actor, yet no one told him he was terrible at it…And most of the other plots felt superimposed too. The whole fiasco of him trying to sell his bakery, only to backout at the last minute after a sudden emotional catalyst was far too predictable. There were random emotional plugs throughout which were so cliche. Instead of having soul-stirring impacts, they sadly had none. By the end of the movie, I wasn’t proud or happy for Rumi, I actually disliked him and was deeply irked, which I’m certain was not Udhwani’s intention. His journey of self discovery wasn’t convincing it just felt like he took the easy way out.
2. Bad dialogues
As if the storyline wasn’t bad enough, they added desperately-trying-too-hard-to-be-different dialogues, such as “The universe isn’t made up of atoms it’s made up of stories” (…)
Throughout the movie there were scenes which were actually quite cute, but then featured dialogues that ruined them. For instance, after Rumi sleeps with a certain someone, she says ““yeh tere puppa ke haath hai, tere grandpuppa ke haath hai”. Umm that’s a weird thing to say after sex, or even in general. Other bad apples like “aapru time aausu” just added fuel to the fire.
Maska is a feeble attempt at a coming of age, young adult movie. You won’t miss much if you skip it, but you also won’t gain much if you don’t. I wish Koirala and Jaffrey were used more, Kamani, Sethia and Dutta were more convincing on screen and that the plot had at least one non-predictable twist.
Watch (or don’t) Maska on Netlfix, and tell us what you think!
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