“Every parent is a hypocrite by nature,” declares Masaba Gupta, fashion designer and titular star of web series ‘Masaba Masaba’ in an interview with Gulf News. Her mother and award-winning actress Neena Gupta, who famously single parented Masaba in real life, nods in agreement.
“The rule that applies to another kid is never the rule that applies to you … There’s a slight bit of hypocrisy there but that’s just the way of the world and the nature of the beast,” said Masaba.
And that hypocrisy is in full display in the ultimate episode of ‘Masaba Masaba’, the semi-fictionalised series featuring the mother and daughter as themselves, airing on Netflix.
The second season premiered last week on Netfix and takes off where Masaba could be pregnant and her mother is having a bigger melt-down than her own daughter who’s also freaked out at the prospect of having an unplanned baby. The second season see the two navigate the curveballs thrown at them and how they try to reclaim their lives, careers, and more.
The glossy series, which evoked mixed reactions, also saw fashion designer Masaba Gupta flex her acting muscles with aplomb for the first time, while seasoned actress Neena Gupta won hearts with her wickedly good performance. They both play themselves in this quirky series, but chart out whacky and zany situations that may or may not have happened to them in their actual lives. Bad first dates, wrong business decisions, difficulties facing ageing actors in Bollywood and paucity in jobs are all explored with a nifty eye for detail.
“We didn’t want to glorify ourselves and just because we are controlling the narrative, we still chose to show the real us … The series is all about accepting the other person for what it is and that’s a large part about the show’s appeal,” said Masaba.
Gulf News spoke to this good-looking and articulate pair on life, love, and desires over a zoom video call and here’s what we gleaned from our free-wheeling conversation …
The glamorous pair were thrilled to headline a web series that showed their true selves – warts, moles and all:
“When Sonam [Nair, director of ‘Masaba Masaba’] came to me with the script with some risqué bits, I wondered if people will get it and feared if we are being too forwards. And she said: ‘if we don’t be forward then who will?’ Those words from Sonam stayed with me and I decided to take the plunge … In this show, we want to address issues that’s usually swept under the rug and remember it’s a great feeling to openly talk about topics even if they make you uncomfortable,” said Masaba.
‘Masaba Masaba’ shows women who are fierce and flawed:
“Our show doesn’t shy away from showing women who are real. For instance, I represent mothers who also have desires. Most mothers are shy to express them because they have been conditioned to think that after a particular age after you have babies, all your desires are out of the window and it’s all over. Just like how men look at beautiful girls in magazines and movies, women must be fantasising too. Even if you are a housewife who don’t have the time to look after themselves or go to the gym, they also wonder how their life would be with a good-looking guy rather than a husband who was balding or with a paunch … Even women like ‘nainsukh’ [eye candy].
Mother and daughter often have varying dynamics in this series:
In the last episode of season 1, Neena Gupta is flipping out after learning that Masaba could be possibly pregnant.
“I am not very conventional in many ways, when it comes to this I turned conventional and looked as if I might have a heart attack if she’s actually pregnant. What I am trying to say is that we have struck a balance when it comes to our reactions to situations like this,” said Neena. Masaba also chips in that it was a series with a fly-in-the-wall phone camera filming techniques.
“We often told Sonam that this not the way mom and I speak and we used to tweak scenes so that it looks candid and natural … We didn’t want our dialogues to look stilted and contrived … Sometimes a fictional series can sound fake and we didn’t want that,” said Masaba.
‘Masaba Masaba’ is a series which is no-judgement zone:
“We live in a world where we are constantly judging everyone … For instance, I hear mothers often comment about how badly behaved somebody else’s child is or how some mother has hired three nannies or no nannies at all …. There’s scrutiny and we have avoided that,” said Masaba. Neena lets us in on an anecdote of how she used to judge mothers who paraded their child’s skills when strangers and friends visited.
“When guests come, they will just open this album and show us their kids’ pictures but the guests are not interested … I swore I won’t be that mother, but I ended up doing just that … I remember asking Masaba to sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ rhyme or to show her nose to guests… Remember, we are human beings and it is all normal,” said Neena.
Always marry the boring one:
Neena Gupta, who has never married, has an interesting advice for her daughter.
“Marry the boring person because he will be there for you and he’s reliable/dependable,” says Neena. But Masaba, who divorced producer Madhu Mantena in 2019, hopes to tread the middle ground. If Masaba had her way, she would marry an interesting man who’s not a commitment phobe. She remembers how her friend had described her dating persona as someone who always gravitates toward these type of men.
“My friend who is now married keeps telling me that I’m dying to find a bad boy to change him and make him my project … Sometimes when someone is right in front of you and is available, you don’t see it … Sometimes, you like it when a man is slightly unavailable or doesn’t text for two days or send you flowers,” said Masaba.
Perfect lives on social media doesn’t mean a thing:
Masaba and Neena have enough life experience between them to know that social media perfection does not equate to real-time happiness. The series also explores how social media revolution, influencers, and snooty content creators are here to stay in the fashion and film world.
“There may be a lot of people who we follow on social media, but they may not have their lives together even though they seem to tick all the boxes online. Remember, nobody has it all figured out or nobody can lead a perfect life. If you see the hash tag blessed or bliss, trust me they don’t feel it,” said Masaba.
Don’t Miss It!
‘Masaba Masaba’ is streaming on Netflix now
I dislike men who say they are not the relationship type but continue to talk to women. The men in today’s generation don’t come clean and often claim they are not monogamous … Their lack of boredom and lack of commitment is irritating. I don’t even become friends with someone who can’t commit, forget a relationship
“When I got to the beach to walk every evening. I see a lot of couples standing, hugging, or screaming or crying … I have never seen a man cry or crib … Ladies remember men are not your projects to fix,” says Neena Gupta.