Cast: Manisha Koirala, Prit Kamani, Shirley Setia, Nikita Dutta
Director: Neeraj Udhwani
Netflix original, Maska starring Prit Kamani, Shirley Setia, Nikita Dutta, Manisha Koirala, and Javed Jaffery among others feels like a fresh nostalgic breeze of Irani cafes, the smell of freshly baked buns and creamy white butter served with Irani chai, reminding us of simpler times. The film gets full marks for its intent but fails to stand out from other options on digital media.
Maska seems like a typical Bollywood film with family conflicts that are not unheard of set in a Parsi community. Diana(Manisha Koirala) is a widow and owner of 100- year-old Cafe Rustom who runs the cafe after her husband’s ( Javed Jaffery) death carrying the legacy of family with pride. She dreams of witnessing a revived version of the cafe after her son Rumi( Prit Kamani) graduates but Rumi much contrary to his mother’s wish sees himself as next Shah Rukh Khan of the industry who has no interest in being a ‘maskawala’.
The audience sees the film through a teenager’s eyes who wants to make it big in life and feels like his family legacy is holding him back. He moves out of his house in Colaba and starts living with his live-in girlfriend, Mallika who is a Punjabi and divorcee. Mallika makes Rumi feel how he cannot connect with his roots just like her and this strengthens Rumi’s desire of becoming an actor but his confused teenage mind that lost his way earlier finds home in Persis Mistry (Shirley Setia) who makes him realize the difference between dreams and delusions.
Prit Kamani justifies the role of a confused teenager who ultimately finds solace in the things he was running away from. Javed Jaffery adds a tinge of humor with his comic timing and unexpected appearances. Manisha Koirala’s efforts of delivering the Parsi accent can be clearly seen but her part is reduced to overdramatic dialogues and outdated family conflicts. Nikita Dutta as Mallika delivers a neat performance but she clearly deserves more frame in the story. Prit and Shirley give the chocolate-boy and pretty crush next door vibe as Shirley’s acting seems forced and one-tone.
The wave of nostalgia that hits you right when the film starts is lost in the story of a confused youngster. Maska would have been a delight to watch if it focused more on the story of ‘Maskabun’ and less on ‘What Rumi wants in life’. Life is all about stories, Isn’t it? (You have to watch the film to get this !). Imagine Diana remembering her husband Rustom by thinking about their memories and not by giving his possessions to Rumi.
Maska can be given a shot since you have ample time in your hands now but otherwise, the movie feels like a classic family drama.