Film_Companion Masaba masaba
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Masaba and Neena Gupta chat with Sneha Menon Desai about Netflix‘s Masaba Masaba, sharing the screen as mother-daughter and what they hope the audience takes away from the show.

Sneha Menon Desai: This is a fictionalised account of your life – did you have any conversations with yourself, on how far you’d go when it comes to safeguarding your privacy?

Masaba Gupta: All the characters in the show are inspired from people in my life and I wanted to make sure that I show them in a good light. I knew that there was a wall I wasn’t going to cross. It would’ve been exciting to share more and I know that it would’ve been juicier and much more fun to watch, there would’ve been more gossip but I knew there was a line that I wasn’t going to cross. I don’t intend to even if we go into season 2. Contrary to what people think, I’m actually very private as a person. There are certain aspects of my life I just do not share and I wanted it to be that way. Even then, the show has enough masala to make it exciting.

SMD: There’s this part where you’re annoyed and you’re telling a friend: All my life my friends keep saying that it must be so cool to have a mom like Neena Gupta, she’s so bad-ass. All of us do think that way, but is there a flipside to being Neena Gupta’s daughter?

MG: Yeah, totally. She’s actually very conservative or at least she used to be. She’s become a little easier to live with in the past three or four years, but she’s not so cool also. I’m scared of her, there are lines I do not cross with my mother. I would never come home late, I get scared to eat too much junk in front of her, my language is different around her. She’s not a bindaas person. She’s a Punjabi lady sometimes.

SMD: Neena, in some episodes, your husband in the show tells you there’s no need to behave like a struggling actress at this age. You also talk about the depression of not getting roles you wanted. What did that phase teach you about the industry?

NG: My husband would actually say that, I told the writers. He’d say, ‘What’s the need now? Earlier, you needed money, now everything is okay.’ But those 10 years when I didn’t work, I thought: I have worked enough in life. I had no leisure time, luxury time to myself. I had a baby, I had no husband and no money, so it was a difficult phase. But I realized that I was missing something, that everybody was taking me for granted because I was home. There was a lack of respect. Work gives you respect so that’s the reason I said: I’m a very good housewife, I can cook, I can look after the household, bachha, husband, but I need to work. I think all women need to work.

SMD: Masaba, we saw your mother go from people thinking she had quit acting to suddenly being in every film. How do you get her dates for this series?

Masaba Gupta: She was actually very excited. She heard about the idea and the joke was that she didn’t have dates. We had to fight for her dates, because she was doing Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan then. But I remember her telling me, ‘This will be very good for you.’ because I’m overly critical of myself. She said this was a great way to tell my story the way I wanted to. But it’s true, she was a very busy actor and her rate was also very high at that time. I’m glad it all worked out.

SMD:– Was she also a mother on the set or is it something that you can shake off very easily? Did you catch her having any of these baby ko juice chahiye moments on set?

NG: It was was opposite. It was like baby ko juice nahi chahiye.

MG: Totally opposite, no preferential treatment at all. The first day I was shooting with her, she said, ‘Kitna buraa kar rahi hain.’ It was a scene in which we have a fight. I was really hamming it. I really wanted to act it out. I was trying to remove the frustration of 10 to 15 years’ worth of people telling me, ‘You can’t be an actress.’ But I did a terrible job and she, in front of the entire set, said, ‘Chilla kyu rahi hain?’ Everybody was there and they were all trying not to laugh. It was my first or second shot and it was hilarious. So you can imagine the treatment I got.

SMD: What are you hoping people take away from the show?

MG: Just come with an open mind. It was like breaking me open, but I think for people it’s a fun, light, watch. I think young girls will identify with it. Strangely, after the trailer came out, a lot of middle-aged men loved it, so I think they’ll enjoy the show. My physiotherapist and everyone messaged me after the trailer dropped. It’s just not for fashion people, that’s a misconception, it’s for everybody. It’s for the young girl who’s just starting her job, anybody who has a cool mother-daughter relationship, anybody who is a young professional or not working, everybody will find something that they like in the show. It’s an honest, genuine attempt at a genre that is so new for India. So, go with an open mind and lots of food and lots of drinks, have fun.

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