The world is not made up of atoms, it is made of stories. Netflix‘s Maska, a light-hearted slice-of-life film, based on a Parsi cafe owner in Ballard Estate, is an easy watch but quite predictable at times. Based on one of Mumbai’s famous Irani cafes, the script is focussed on a woman Diana (Manisha Koirala) who wants her cafe – her husband’s (Javed Jaffrey who is dead but present in the film) legacy – to flourish. The son Rumi (Prit Kamani), however, doesn’t want to carry this legacy forward because he is an aspiring actor.
The one hour 51 minutes long film is written and directed by Neeraj Udhwani. Maska is another name used for buttered buns as served by Irani cafes around India. Over the years the word has taken the connotation of ‘buttering’ something or someone up. The film’s plot is centered around turning Rumi’s journey of wanting to be an actor to finally realising that his ‘legacy’ is most important.
Diana owns the Rustom Cafe in Ballard Estate and expects her son to take over. It’s a story close to the real life journeys across generations of the now world-famous Cafe Britannia that serves the storied berry pulao and other salli dishes.
Rumi has other plans for himself, and plots an idea to sell the cafe to finance his acting career. Rumi auditions to be an actor and falls in love with his contemporary Mallika (Nikita Dutta). Together they decide to live-in and she convinces him that he is made to be a ‘superstar’.
At this point in the film one figures where the plot is generally headed. Mallika goes on to get roles while Rumi doesn’t. Eventually, he cracks a deal to sell the cafe and give the money to a producer who will make him a star.
At this point, enter Persis played by digital star Shirley Setia. She is working on a coffee table book and captures the journey of the cafe among other Irani cafes. Her conversations with Rumi are more to remind him of why stories matter, why documenting history is important and how memories is all that matters.
The Netflix Original could have smoothened out the edges and tried some new twists to the plot.
It all gets a bit clunky here, especially the pivot points. Like the moment the character Rumi changes his mind to fall in love with the cafe after listening to two stories on the headset. And later the part when he reads the coffee table book to ‘suddenly’ realise the mistake he has made by allowing Rustom cafe to be sold to a coffee chain.
“Yeh cafe nahin hai, yeh meri legacy hai,” Rumi says in a dramatic dialogue and the background score soars and it all takes a happy turn. The Netflix Original could have smoothened out the edges and tried some new twists to the plot. If any of you have seen the movie starring Dimple Kapadia and Nana Patekar, Tum Milo To Sahi, you would reckon the movie has twists and turns and yet it was quite entertaining, neatly rounded at the turning points.
From the cast, Manisha Koirala looks lovely in the film, perhaps a little a forced as a Parsi sometimes. Nonetheless, she carries the role with grace and gusto.
Image Credit: Netflix