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Maska: Missing the savoury recipe

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Starring:  Manisha Koirala, Prit Kamani, Nikita Dutta, Shirley Setia
Director: Neeraj Udhwani

Anurag Bohra, New Delhi

A light-hearted, family saga dropped on Netflix as we are stuck in our homes courtesy the coronavirus lockdown. The Netflix original features actors Manisha Koirala, debutant Prit Kamani, Nikita Dutta and singer turned actor Shirley Setia. The story revolves around a young lad Rumi played by Kamani who lives with his widowed mother Diana portrayed by Koirala. Diana wants Rumi to take over the family Irani Café ‘Rustom’, and carry on the family legacy of specializing in Bun-Maska. 

Rumi, on the other hand, has been aspiring to become a Bollywood actor. 

Diana disapproves of Rumi’s fascination for movies and his girlfriend Mallika who’s a divorcee and a struggling actor. The film starts with an interesting twenty minutes but later starts getting predictable. In the beginning, one is introduced to the hardships of an aging Diana and her son Rumi’s struggles while pursuing his passion. Human emotions are well depicted with a slice of humour in the first half. However, after a point of time, the plot loses its grip. 

Maska falls prey to the formulaic mainstream Bollywood narrative. 

The USP of the film is its lead actors and the mother-son relationship. Koirala goes overboard with her Irani accent initially, but later on, imbibes Diana and her maternal insecurities as the movie progresses. Kamani is also completely immersed in Rumi’s internal conflicts with life, career, and relationships. Nikita Dutta plays the career-driven Mallika with much ease and finesse. Javed Jaffery is impressive in a special appearance. Setia as Persis, a coffee table book writer disappoints. Her chemistry with Kamani also doesn’t have any spark. Although Setia tries hard, yet she needs to work on her dialogue delivery and expressions. Savi Sidhu is a surprise element in a minor yet impactful role. Boman Irani in guest appearance pulls off the scenes aesthetically with poise.

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Farooq Hundekar has done a fine job with the editing. It’s the plot and narrative of Maska which leaves lesser scope for the editor. Neeraj Udhwani has hit the right chord with his directorial debut in extracting soulful performances with his actors. Udhwani must also be credited for dealing with a mother-son bond with utmost maturity and sensitivity. 

Music by Akshay Raheja, Mickey McCleary, and Ketan Sodha fails to impress the audience. Eeshit Narain’s cinematography amicably complements Udhwani and Ishita Moitra’s screenplay in capturing the Parsi locality and emotional conflicts of characters through close shots. In spite of strong female characters, the movie doesn’t leave an impact on the viewers’ minds. 

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Maska is old wine served in a new bottle. A decent watch at a time of quarantine. Watch it for the performances and aesthetic portrayal of a mother-son relationship.  Netflix India has classified the 1 hour 51 minutes movie in the 16+ category.