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‘Wanted to share my relationships in good light'

… says masaba gupta as she and neena gupta talk about playing themselves in masaba masaba, out on netflix

Published: 16th September 2020 08:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2020 08:42 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Masaba Gupta was stumped by an early pitch for Masaba Masaba. Was it a documentary? Was it fiction? ‘Auto-fiction’ — as the genre is widely known — was virtually unheard of on the Indian small screen. Moreover, the famed designer had never acted before, and was unsure of making the leap. Still, as the makers pressed on and the writing commenced, Masaba warmed up to the concept.

It was of course crucial that she steered the screenplay. “The catharsis and peace of reliving everything happened at the scripting stage,” she says. “While filming, I had more of an out-ofbody experience. I actually thought this was a character I was given to play, and just happened to know her journey and what she’s like in person.” Streaming on Netflix, the six-part series offers a fictional peek into the lives of Masaba and Neena Gupta.

The show starts amid the failing marriage of Masaba and her on-screen husband (in life, she was married to producer Madhu Mantena from 2015-2019). Other aspects of her life and career — her doting, but spiky relationship with her mother, old and new affairs — flit in and out of the narrative. It’s been alleged that the show skims over the difficult pages of her life. Masaba, for her part, chalks it down to personal choice. “There’s a line we didn’t cross in terms of what I wanted to share,” she says. “My relationships — be it with my parents, my friends, or my exhusband — I wanted to share them in a good light.

Because that’s what they’ve been to me.” The fullness of the title aside, the show is as much about Neena Gupta. The veteran actor has been enjoying a wondrous second inning post the success of Badhaai Ho (2018). The show, however, locates her a few years prior, as a has-been star angling for a leading role. There’s also a lovely throwback to her heyday on TV, as the stern host of the shortlived game show Kamzor Kadi Kaun. “I remember when I used to do Kamzor Kadi Kaun, a lot of people didn’t like me in that part,” Neena recalls. “That’s why it didn’t do well, because people did not like me being rude.” Neena adds that her relationship with Masaba is faithfully depicted in the show.

“Ours is a normal parent-child relationship,” she says. “It’s how any motherdaughter pair in the world is.” As befits a series about the fashion and entertainment worlds, Masaba Masaba is packed with cameos. Kiara Advani plays an ultra-vain version of herself. Farah Khan appears as a filmmaker remaking an 80s classic (she breezily slips behind a Katrina Kaif cut-out in her office). Tired of waiting around, Neena unloads her frustrations in a social media post. This leads to a song collaboration with Mithila Palkar. Elsewhere, Shibani Dandekar hosts a bizarre art show and corners Masaba into a purchase. Gajraj Rao, Neena’s Badhaai Ho co-star, also drops by near the end.

“Just to poke fun at yourself is so new for Indian cinema,” Masaba says. “For the show, I expected only these people to do it. They gave the writers a complete freehand in what they wanted to do. We made sure that whoever we got, they played the craziest version of themselves.” Fun and glitzy in tone, Sonam Nair’s show often veers into satire. The pilot episode is woven around a blind item doing the rounds on Masaba’s marriage.

This comes at a time when a wide section of the media is being accused of undue intrusion in celebrities’ lives. Neena Gupta, who once filled fashion magazines and gossip columns alike, has this to say about the situation. “It’s always disturbing when something is written about you that isn’t one per cent true,” she notes. “However, over the years, I’ve learnt how much to speak and where. If there are advantages of being a public figure, then there are disadvantages too. In my early years, I used to think that a journalist is my friend. Now I know he or she is just doing a job. There are good and bad moments everywhere, so it’s not so bad.”


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