Masaba Masaba, Thoughts and Questions about the WHOLE THING

I did two posts quickly summarizing and reviewing each of the 6 episodes (first 3 and then second 3). And now, a very quick post discussing the WHOLE THING!!!

Based on the first episode, I thought it would be a show about celebrity culture and mother-daughter relationships. But after watching the whole season, I think that was the juicy opening point, and it isn’t really that at all. It’s about the world of the upper class artistic Bombay people, balancing work and personal fulfillment, while living in this little bubble of liberal forward thinking in the middle of a regressive society. Everyone in this show is outside the “perfect” Indian family structure and life structure as it is defined by the larger society and represented in most films. There are no engineers, there are no happy young husband and wives with young children, there’s casual queerness (no one is defined as “out” or “in” or anything like that, they just have boyfriends or girlfriends), and there’s casual sex. And divorce. And happy marriages where husband and wife don’t live together.

It’s also about social media. Masaba herself, the real person, used social media heavily to promote her fashion line back when she was nobody and no one noticed her. She still uses it heavily now, along with shows at fashion week and so on. In the first episode, she used social media to coordinate first her defense against the rumors of divorce, and then to announce her divorce. Over and over again, she uses it to send a message. It isn’t “truth”, but the feeling behind it is truth. She and Neena fight, Neena posts a social media plea for jobs, Masaba reposts it. She doesn’t acknowledge her fight with her Mom, pretends on social media that everything is fine, while also sending her mother a message that she is proud of her and supports her. She and her friend fight, her friend isn’t picking up the phone, she puts up a post about how important their friendship is. She doesn’t tell social media “we had a fight”, but she tells the world “I love this person” which has a bigger message for her friend that she appreciates her and is ready to tell everyone. It’s an interesting theme through out, how social media is used to help design an image, while not exactly being a lie.

Oh, and fashion, that too! Like some of you, I was under impressed by the actual fashion show we saw. But Masaba’s costumes episode by episode are just stunning. I think there is a similar slight of hand to how she uses social media going on here. She knows the fashion show storyline will only be in a few episodes, so she puts her least interesting stuff there, and saves the real great stuff for her own costumes.

Masaba Masaba Trailer: The Netflix original featuring Masaba Gupta along  with Neena Gupta traces a journey through career, family and love -  Newslagoon

Finally, race! Masaba a couple of times mentions struggling with her hair. Which is a way of acknowledging the day to day challenges of living with kinky hair unlike the hair of those around you, or what people expect. And there is the ADORABLE little Masaba, really a cute little actress, which is also a little touch of showing the audience a darker skinned little girl with natural hair looking cute and wonderful.

How the Right Child Artiste for 'Masaba Masaba' was Found - News18

One final thing that is really a small thought/question. The rich Bombay folks who speak English (and they speak it A LOT) seem to be speaking with an American accent more often than not. Is that now the norm? American English is the biggest sign of class and sophistication?

Okay, those are all the big thoughts I can think of, how about you?

10 thoughts on “Masaba Masaba, Thoughts and Questions about the WHOLE THING

  1. I was a little confused by the show…I think the whole “based on their real-life” is what kept throwing me off…Masaba does some really stupid unprofessional things on the show and I kept shaking my head saying that there is no way she did anything of these silly things in real life…of course, they probably added all that in for dramatic effect…but I wish they stuck closer to real-life challenges…

    And as far as your question – yes the upper crust now speaks American English…it used to be British English coz of the convent education (ala Shashi Tharoor)…but in the past 10-15 years the best schools are no longer convents…instead best schools are now the international IB schools with American English (aka the Ambani School)…and the privileged go to American universities now, not Oxford/Cambridge…plus its also the access to American TV shows/movies…

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    • I have to think that the stupid things she does are how stupid she felt like she was being, not how stupid she actually was. Like, she made a minor mistake in a venue for her fashion launch, not she put it on a boat and everyone got seasick and she didn’t confirm the number of guests and stuff like that.

      Huh! Well, this is downright disturbing for me! I’ve gotten used to Indian films as a place where no one talks “like me”, and now there are all these folks going around with an American accent.

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  2. Even I thought that the American English-posh people thing was weird.I mean,if someone actually speaks like that,more often than not it sounds fake because we grow up with British English.In most cases,unless someone has lived in the West for considerable time,the American accent sounds exceptionally fake than say,a British accent,which is what we grow up with and come across more often through our Professors(even the ones from different parts of India emulate a more “British”way of speaking English,but is more of enunciation than accent).However people in showbiz do emulate an American accent,rather affectation,even in their mother tongue.It is not a Mumbai thing,rather a entertainment industry thing.Any speech expert would tell you that their enunciation is still the British way.It is more of a artificial guard thing than the truth-listen to Manish Malhotra in formal setting versus candid streams and interviews where he lets the guard down.I grew up with a phase of extreme shyness,and put up an accent as it felt like it was not “me” speaking,but rather a personna that would be judged instead of me as a person.People face it all the time,and it is difficult to shed the guard of accent when you grow accustomed to it,no matter how fake it sounds.There is a reason we find so many actresses putting up accent,than say,a dude who wouldn’t be called unpolished for a native accent(boo patriarchy!).Listen to Rekha now,in her very natural accent versus the young Rekha with an American accent in her interview with Simi Gharewal.A more extreme example-Sharmila.Sharmila in real life speaks nothing like in movies.

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    • This is fascinating to me because it didn’t register for me at all. If anything, I thought the way Masaba and Gia talk sounded just like all the other young hip people we see in movies set in the cities among the privileged set. Was it their accents that sounded put on to you or other characters?

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      • Not their accents, it was especially the stepdaughter. I kept waiting for an explanation that she was American and there on summer vacation or something, but no one ever asked about the accent, and she threw in plenty of Hindi like someone raised in India would. But her English was American English, and no one batted an eye at it. I think there were some other characters too, but I can’t remember who.

        On Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 10:44 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I think it was in the movie Outsourced where the main Indian character points out that she doesn’t speak English with any accent other than an Indian accent. Most aren’t trying to replicate British or American accents, they’re just speaking the Indian brand of English. I think, though, that opening up the television market 25 odd years ago must have had some type of effect on how people learn and speak English. I’m guessing that if I were to actually get around to speaking Hindi (not just reading it) I’d have a Bollywood “Hinglish” accent. (I do hope that Indians realize that NOBODY LIKES the way Ross talks in Friends. He’s irritating. Don’t talk like that!!!)

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    • I can’t hear that much of a difference usually, but in this show it was a little freaky, suddenly hearing “my” accent in the English dialogue instead of Indian English, or even slightly British. We had a whole discussion about this on some other post, the very few upper upper crust folks in India for whom English is a first language speak Hindi slightly wrong and folks who are fluent in Hindi can hear it. I can’t, but they can. I can definitely hear the difference when British educated folks like Saif or Amitabh are doing formal English. Not just Hinglish with a word here and there, but talking to an international source fully in English, it’s just gorgeous sounding and perfect.

      On Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 8:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Coming from the moment we’re in here in the US, it’s almost like she doesn’t address race at all, except by fearlessly being herself, and looking gorgeous, and dressing her body beautifully. It’s one of those only noticeable because it goes unspoken things, like Neena’s distance marriage and the artist’s open sexuality, and her assistant being into ladies.

    Neena definitely came out as the most sympathetic one to me. We see her flaws, and how she struggles and gets flustered, but she ultimately just keeps going. There’s a strength and determination to her, you can see where her daughter gets it.

    I liked the potential boss romance, and I’m kind of glad they didn’t try to make it happen by the end of six episodes, but that last episode felt like spaghetti on the wall, how many plot twists can we throw in? Like I wish at least they’d given us the mini resolution of having her face him knowing that she sent the “big dick energy” text to the wrong person. Give the plot a moment to breathe.

    I’m still weirded out by the mix of reality and fiction. Thinking about other times those mix and how it feels. I have a low tolerance for straight up reality shows, especially quasi famous people performing themselves (looking at you, Priyanka and her Jonas brother). It feels like cheating, an illusion of intimacy for the audience because we don’t really know what kind of people they are or to what degree the emotions are real, but at the same time they’ve taken these private spaces of home and relationships and exposed them to an audience for fame and profit. On the other hand, the moments of meta casting in movies or shows I tend to love – the real life parent and child playing family in a film, or dissecting what kind of expectations the audience brings to certain characters because of who the actors are in real life (say, if we were to see Alia and Ranbir together onscreen). Masaba Masaba doesn’t give me the icky feeling of a full reality show because it’s scripted, but it’s closer than comfortable to that line compared to a film that fully fictionalizes their characters, or has them playing entirely made up people in an entirely made up story. I guess I feel a bit mixed up, interested in the choices they made about what to present onscreen, but also wondering a bit about the collateral characters in real life and how they feel about how this frames their piece of the story in the public eye.

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    • The one race thing that leaped out at me was her comment about her hair. That bothered me, because it felt like we were supposed to agree with her, to go “oh yeah, her hair is weird and bad” instead of thinking it was beautiful and she did amazing things with it (which she did). I suspect it also showed how her real life is now, Masaba-the-person has talked about racist bullying she experienced in school as a child, which I can totally believe. But now that she is a celebrity, the race isn’t going to be a surprise to anyone, it’s already sort of known and dealt with by people who would meet her. However, I am guessing she still gets plenty of stares in the street and ignorant comments from taxi drivers and so on. Or maybe not? She lives in such a bubble of wealth and privilege, does she ever have to deal with that any more? Or would it be more sleazy weird comments from investors, or casual insults from rich clients? Maybe if there is a second season, she will be brave enough to include a moment like that and give a hint at what she has had to deal with all her life. Oh wait! I remembered one other thing! A couple of times she was mistaken for being African-from-Africa and irritated by that. That is fascinating, it hadn’t occurred to me that her race would make people reject her nationality.

      Neena came off the best to me too. And on a meta level, that means Masaba must see her like that, since it is Masaba’s show. She got to determine that her mother would appear as this unbreakable force who just keeps going. Lovely little mother-daughter thing outside of the show.

      It felt like they weren’t sure if they were going to do a second season and wanted to leave potential there, without a cliffhanger. Tricky, and they didn’t QUITE manage it. Next season could be her and the boss continuing to dance around each other, almost going on dates, obsessing, etc. etc. Or it could drop in to them moving in together and dealing with his ex and stepdaughter, the ending of her finding out about the text followed by them dancing together at the party could go all kinds of ways.

      It kind of felt like that random celebrity playing themselves cameo you have sometimes, only that was the whole show? Like, remember Keanu Reeves playing Keanu Reeves in Always Be My Maybe? He was great in that as this slightly exagerated version of himself. Or in this, Kiara Advani showing up to play at the vapid movie star. If the show had been about, say, her totally made up fictional assistant with Masaba and Neena showing up in recurring cameos as themselves, I could wrap my brain around it more easily.

      On Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 11:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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