The new web series on Netflix based on the life of Masaba and Neena Gupta is like a fresh breath of air. However, the GenZ lifestyle has some Queerphobia and may pinch the queer eyes.
Masaba Masaba is a story of courage and hope. The mother-daughter duo Neena and Masaba Gupta play the fictionalized characters of themselves. The show is a fresh breath of air but amidst all the amazing things, it comes with a pinch of Homophobia. Just a pinch.
Masaba Masaba is the fictionalized biopic of Masaba Gupta and Neena Gupta (Sub Plot) and the struggle of the mother-daughter duo in their work and personal life. Masaba, the ace fashion designer, is struggling between her broken marriage, pressure from investors, a failed fashion show, and amidst all this, a battle to find herself. Neena in her Sixties wants to do all she has never done in her life, which includes swimming, driving, to ink a tattoo, and to prove her worth in cinema again. “Age is just a number,” she says, and the song “Aunty kisko bola bey” is the apt representation of it.
The idea of someone unapologetically putting her life out in public and portraying the character herself is courageous. From the marriage separation of Masaba to the social media post of Neena Gupta seeking work in the industry, the series catches everything. The one scene that I thought brave enough is where Masaba confronts her mother, Neena, with a hint of her relationship with Viv Richards.
However, the best thing about the series is no matter how emotionally strong it might sound, the creators have ensured that the story is told in a lighthearted manner. The series is smooth and maintains a smile throughout (unless you are a queer or an ally). The performances are smooth and flawless. Its worth mentioning the acting of Masaba, she is a charm.
I watched the series just for Masaba and Neena Gupta as a big-time fan of both. Neena’s acting and Masaba’s fashion are, of course, things to love. But the cherry on the cake is the acting of Masaba. Everyone is wondering why she never tried acting as a career?
I don’t know whether this is sounding like a review or not because this is the first time I am writing a review of a series or a movie. Why am I writing this? I had a lot of hopes with the series knowing the Gen Z Masaba represents, and the woke culture the new generation projects. The series fulfilled some of my wishes like the unapologetic characters of Masaba and Neena Gupta. But this series failed measurably when you scrutinize the homophobia portrayed.
The portrayal of queer characters in the show might be for the reason that the makers wanted to show how woke they are, but the way it has been handled deserves criticism. Maybe the intentions were right, but then intentions are of no defence when it comes to queerphobia.
In a scene, Masaba video calls Jogi only to find out him on the bed with another man. Isn’t it cool? Seeing Jogi with his partner, Masaba makes a disgusting face like she wants to puke. In another scene, she spent the night at Jogi’s home, thinking he might be bi-sexual. The next morning leaving the house, Masaba sees the gay partner of Jogi in the hall sleeping on a couch. She runs from there again making a face as if she is about to throw up. As if she has seen a ghost or some creature which is not at all worthy of even a look. Isn’t it blatant homophobia?
In another scene, when Masaba and her husband are signing the sale agreement of the house, the new owners and a young couple arrive. The effeminate husband is a huge fan of Masaba. When they leave, Masaba tells her husband, “yeh toh pakka gay hai” (He is certainly a gay person). Stereotyping assumptions based on anyone’s appearance is queerphobia. Even all the fashion designers are shown as effeminate gays. Firstly, not all fashion designers are gay; secondly, not all gay men are effeminate; and at last, even not all bottom gays are effeminate. Then why this stereotyping?
Is this something new? No, not at all. From society to Bollywood to these new-age web series, stereotyping queer people is nothing new; instead, it is the norm. Then why am I writing about “Masaba Masaba” while I did not write about the utterly transphobic “Paatal Lok” or for that matter “Kapil Sharma Show” or for that matter any other movie or series? I am writing because I had hoped for this web series.
Masaba represents the new woke liberal generation and so do the makers of the series. Not giving a damn about the social attitude, the new age carefree mindset is evident in the series. That is why the homophobia pinches a lot. I never hoped the mainstream Indian entertainment industry would give any realistic representation of queer people, barring a handful of good movies, but I thought the new people coming to the industry will change it. In that sense, “Masaba Masaba” disappointed me.
As for the parting paragraph, I genuinely want to believe that the intentions of the makers were not wrong, and they just failed in sketching out the emotions on reels properly. I am an optimistic person and I genuinely want to believe this. And for the rest of you, minus these three instances the whole series is worth watching and a strong recommendation. We have ignored queerphobia in Bollywood for ages and recently in the name of representation, we got a caricature of the situation namely “Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan,” and we have been enjoying the “Kapil Sharma Show” for so long.
In comparison to these, “Masaba Masaba” has done no SIN.