The coronavirus outbreak seems to have changed the world in an unprecedented manner. For the first time since the advent of Internet, the human population at large is forced to spent majority of its time indoors as the whole world is witnessing a total lockdown. Public transportation, malls, restaurants, bars, cinema halls, discotheques, gymnasiums, adventure parks, and various others places of social gathering have been closed in order to ensure social distancing, which is the key to keeping a check on the rapid spread of the highly contagious and threatening virus.
Under the circumstances, the safest thing to do is to stay at home and indulge in watching something on television or the web. Speaking of the web, the competition between different OTT platforms in India is finally heating up. At a time when Voot Select, Hotstar, MX Player and others are producing some serious content, Netflix has come out with its latest Indian original film, Maska. Written and directed by Neeraj Udhwani, Maska stars Manisha Koirala, Nikita Dutta, Shirley Setia, Prit Kamani, and Javed Jaffrey in major roles.
Maska revolves around a Parsi boy named Rumi Irani (essayed by Prit Kamani) who suddenly starts dreaming of becoming a Bollywood actor after winning the colony’s local pageant. But his mother Diana (portrayed Manisha Koirala) has other plans for him. She wants him to take over the Irani family cafe ‘Rustom’ so that the family legacy can be taken forward. Maska is essentially a film about aspirations. After all, in order to one day succeed at doing something one must also aspire for it. One can’t become a great batsman without spending hours in the nets. One doesn’t become a great boxer without practising for hours in the ring. Similarly, one can’t become a great actor overnight. Or can one if the desire is strong enough? This is the question at the heart of Maska.
While Maska’s story is quite predictable, the film is never really dull or boring. Manisha Koirala’s performance is easily the best thing about the film. It’s no surprise to see her essay the character of a Parsi mother so well. For, she has excelled at playing an array of diverse characters in the past as well: be it a Goan Christian in Khamoshi: The Musical, a Tamil Muslim in Bombay, an Assamese militant in Dil Se, a Bengali social activist in Escape from Taliban, and a Kashmiri in Onir’s National Award-winning film I Am, among others. Nikita Dutta’s performance of an aspiring actress is another memorable aspect of the film. Eeshit Narain’s cinematography also deserves a special mention.