Maska Movie Review: Maska is streaming on Netflix.
Maska movie cast: Manisha Koirala, Preet Kamani, Shirley Setia, Nikita Dutta, Jaaved Jaaferi
Maska movie director: Neeraj Udhwani
Maska movie rating: 2 stars
Rumi Irani has stars in his eyes, and the ability to whip up the most wondrous bun-maska, just like his dear deceased papa (Jaaferi), in his veins. He just doesn’t know it. Yet.
Mumma Daisy (Koirala) is waiting for the day her only son will replace her at the ‘galla’, and revive the creaky establishment which has been in the family for generations. As far as Rumi (Kamani) is concerned, there is no dilemma, till there is: how far is he prepared to go to make his dreams come true?
Maska falls between two stools: one part nostalgia, one part how-do-we-make-it-relevant-for-millenials. Ah, the fading romance of Irani cafes, the people who’ve spent a lifetime in their environs, the wistfulness of time past. And today’s on-the-go generation, impatient, quick to make out and sell out with as little sentiment as possible.
The trouble is, you know exactly how this will end even as it opens. The beats are familiar. Even though it has a fresh trio in the lead, there’s no pop and crackle to it. Rumi’s ‘struggles’ to break into Bollywood, the trysts with his acting course batchmate, ambitious Ludhiana girl Mallika (Dutta), the discovery of a soulmate Persis (Setia), are all laid out in a row, with the film telling us what it is doing, even as it is showing us. And only a few of the Parsi (mad bawa/bawi) jokes land.
The tell aspect becomes too much at times. One of the characters tells another, with utmost seriousness: ‘you are a story, I am a story. Bombay is a story’. Or words to that effect. Do millennials speak like this? Or expect their movies to do so?
Even the veterans seem weighed under. Koirala has a few moments, but she is busy playing Daisy. Someone needs to give her a role she can fill. Jaaferi fares better, and is about the only one who makes us sit up. That, and the fact that in today’s times, any film which focuses on the multi-lingual, multi-religious components that made up India, is welcome.
The best parts of the film are filled with food, the cooking and eating of it: the textures of baking fresh bread, the buttery ooze of the maska, the other classic dishes you may find in an Irani establishment, and the golden lights that fill up the kitchen.
A walk-on character says, ‘surprise me’. That’s what we want from new films, and the streaming platforms we still have hope from. Not enough in this one.