Given its deceptively interesting beginnings, you’d never guess how low Maska would go on to fall. The conflict is straightforward and one milked for decades in our cinema. A loving mother, Diana Irani (Manisha Koirala), wants her son to run her family restaurant, Rustom Café. The son, Rumi Irani (Prit Kamani), wants, however, to chase his passion: Become an actor. Not bad at all, right? I thought so too, but in hindsight, I should have heeded some early warnings more seriously. Manisha Koirala, for instance, delivers an OTT performance (pun intended) that seems out of place in this universe. Her character, Diana, gets diagnosed with arthritis, but she knows she has a bigger problem to contend with: Her son’s rebellion. She says, and I’m not making this up, “I have son-thritis.” Another character makes the overused ‘jeans-genes’ wordplay. Around this time, Rumi begins interacting with an apparition of his dead father, Rustom Irani (Javed Jaffrey). The former complains: “Dad, I have no identity.” The latter retorts, “You have no Aadhaar card?” Suddenly, Coronavirus didn’t seem that bad.
Director: Neeraj Udhwani
Cast: Manisha Koirala, Javed Jaffrey, Nikita Dutta, Shirley Setia, Prit Kamani
And yet, I still harboured hopes. The conflict rises to a crescendo around the one-hour mark, despite the mediocre performances and music. Will Rumi sell his café, his family legacy, to fund his pipedream? Somehow, the makers conspire to kill this tension by bringing in a love triangle, which I suppose, was always on the cards. This phase sinks Maska beyond redemption. Both actors, Prit Kamani and Shirley Setia (who plays Rumi’s neighbourhood friend, Persis), deliver wooden performances that show little evidence of internalisation of their characters and their motivations. Rumi has decided to sell off his café for money, but when he’s told heartwarming anecdotes of people who love his café, he betrays no guilt. He reacts with the genial smile of a stranger. When Persis gets forcibly written into a situation where she has to share the bizarre anecdote of her dead brother to a half-awake Rumi, it leaves you fighting a laugh, not a tear. The situations, the performances, all seem manufactured. In theory, the idea of a dying old man wanting to share a ‘bun maska’ with his wife, may have seemed moving, but when you see how it plays out, it’s just bizarre. All I could think was, how did you get this content past Netflix?
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For the remainder of this review (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), please visit https://www.cinemaexpress.com/reviews/hindi/2020/mar/27/netflixs-maska-movie-review-an-interesting-premise-somehow-manages-to-yield-disastrous-results-17760.html