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Maska Is Just The Antidote We Need For The Virus

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Maska(Netflix)

Starring Manisha Koirala,  Prit Kamani, Nikita Dutta, Javed Jaffrey, Shirley Setia

Directed  by  Neeraj Udhwani

Rating: ***(3 stars)

If we disregard  Manisha Koirala Manisha Koirala’s overdone  Parsi accent and  the rather embarrassing  plunge  into  excessive  maudlinism in the second-half, Maska is  quite the  chirpy,bright , sunshiny  mood-elevator  that we  need  during these hard times .

This is  not  the  first film to  take us into the  world of quaint and cute  Parsi eccentricities, and  I hope it’s not the last. Given its reliance on  stereotypical community quirks  Maska  does well for itself. The  film is  propped  up with some intelligent writing and  rock-solid  performances specially by  newcomer Prit Kamani who is quite a  find. Manisha Koirala gets  everything except the accent right.While Javed Jaffrey as her  dead  husband is  a complete natural, accent and all.

Also Read:  Pooja Bedi On Using the Lockdown Productively

Kamani plays  Rumi, heir to a  crumbling Irani café whose  mother  Diana  will  only  allow him  to sell the  expensive property  “over  my dead  body.”Rumi can’t wait that  long. He has dreams  of  becoming a Bollywood  star and he wants to self-fund  a film where he would be  cast as a  leading man.

One can see Rumi is  not the brightest  of candidates  for on-screen  hero-giri. He allows himself to be bullied  by his  overbearing mother( Manisha Koirala ) and a super-ambitious  girlfriend(Nikita Dutta)  who thinks it is okay to sell your heritage  for your dreams  even  if  it makes  you unhappy.Because according to her, happiness will follow later.High hopes, indeed.

Kamani  plays  Rumi with  a sense of melancholic innocence. He is  ambitious  but not quite  clued-in enough to support his ambitions. In one hilarious  sequence he walks into a film audition stark naked because  it’s the  role of  a man caught with his pant’s down. This  chap is way too  earnest and roast-worthy. But Rumi is kind generous and compassionate. Kamani is able to  convey  all of this. It’s  quite  a debut performance.

Also Read:  Goa the New ‘Hotspot’ For Film Shooting

Armed  with  a gallery  of  quirky(Parsi) characters director Neeraj  Udhwani does well for himself. The  film is  suffused with the scent  of sunshine .The positivity  of mood makes  us overlook many  of the  film’s  glaring transgressions , like the  melodrama of  a dying man  feeding bread  maska to his  beloved wife, and a  manufactured climax  which does  nothing to  reiterate the  overall sense  of joie de  vivre that the film projects.