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Maska movie review: Buttered by nostalgia & winning acts

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MASKA movie review is here. Streaming on Netflix, the movie stars Manisha Koirala, Javed Jaffrey, Nikita Dutta, along with Shirley Setia and Prit Kamani. MASKA is written and directed by Neeraj Udhwani.

Immediate reaction when the end credits roll

MASKA – This coming of age rom com is a definite trip to nostalgia for those who have grown up on bun maska chai, pattiice, custards, kheema, puddings etc from the Irani Café’s in Mumbai.

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The Story of MASKA

Rumi (Prit Kamani) a Parsi boy from south Mumbai wins a local fashion competition and starts believing that he has it in him to enter Bollywood. The last hope of the family’s historic Rustom Café legacy – the ancestral Irani joint which is about to hit a century by turning 100 year old is starts dreaming about a career in Bollywood as an actor/star. Rumi’s mother Diana Irani (Manisha Koirala) is living in the illusion that his darling dikra (son) will continue the legacy of Rustom Café. Put some life back into the dying legacy of Irani Café’s in Mumbai and his father’s Rustom Irani (Javed Jaffrey) famous bun maska recipe. In the dreams and reality of Rumi and Diana, Nikita Dutta (Mallika Chopra) a struggling actress and Shirley Setia (Persis Mistry) – the female winner of the same fashion competition which Rumi won as the male contestant come across to make the difference. What happens in the end finds the crux of this coming of age romance.

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MASKA movie review

The close shots of making of the dough for bun, butter, the relishing experience of the people savoring this simple Mumbai delight daily –  Bun Maska Chai that has been a part of life for millions and still is for those who have the access to that aura of an Irani Café will make the audience nostalgic, especially the foodie types.

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The Meta of the conflict between illusions/dreams and reality does gets established but it takes its own sweet time. The initial portions are shaky and only when the character of Shirley Setia (Persis Mistry) enters the café, the movie finds its identity.

MASKA works on its nostalgic part and its undying love for the Irani Café’s and it would have been better to have a conflict between a fast food MNC joint trying to grab the prime south Mumbai locality of Rustom Café and how Diana saves it. While Rumi is in his own illusions but alas, the rom com section of this movie which seems to aim to attract the new age crowd who may be less aware of the nostalgic significance an Irani Café holds with Mumbaikars who have tasted Bun Maska much before Mumbai was Bombay fails to make the required impact.

Yes, there are portions where Rumi gets a reality check of his caliber as an artiste like the Bahadur Shah Zafar, talaffuz and the audition scene which makes a humorously sly statement do place the director Neeraj Udhwani long with writer Ishita Moitra in a different bracket. However the eagerness of both the writers to still rely on conventional clichés like Rumi talking to his dead father Rustom played by Javed Jaffery fails to work. A flash back of Rumi as a child with his father would have been much better.

The performance are endearing where Manisha Koirala still manages to lead even if the story doesn,t makes her the protagonist which should have been the case. Manisha as Diana wins your heart.

Javed Jaffery is very good but the idea of those conversations fails to work.

Prit Kamani as Rumi Irani does well. Nikita Dutta as Mallika Chopra and Shirley Setia as Persis Mistry make their present felt.

Abhishek Banerjee as the casting director does well.

Final words

Not exactly as the love for your beloved you may have desired but certainly a MASKA trip for those who have loved Irani Café’s bun maska, MASKA is a coming of age nostalgic ride for with endearing performances. Going with a buttered three stars an extra for my love for Irani Café which is nothing less than that matchmaker, railway employee and the old couple in the movie.

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