For a long time, for many of us, the only understanding of the Indian fashion industry came from the movie Fashion which let’s admit, largely emphasised the stereotypes and nicely played into the tropes. And of course, the context was from the point of view of a model so we hardly got to watch a designer in action. Then Masaba Masaba came to Netflix and I was invested. Because this was a delicious peek into the behind-the-scenes of a designer’s life- one that till that point in time I was firmly convinced was very glamorous and involved no sort of numbers – which if anyone is listening- is exactly the kind of thing I would want to do. Episode after episode, we watched Masaba and her mother Neena Gupta, go about their lives and now we knew that designers might have convoluted, messy sex lives like ourselves and TBH I related to that at a level I was not expecting because I kept thinking,’ Wow, Masaba is like normal.’
Now, Season 2 is all set to release on Netflix and obviously, this is on my binge list, so excuse me if you don’t spot me all weekend. ELLE caught up with Masaba Gupta (who, I am going to say it, looks very fit and very fine) to get insights into her character’s arc, her acting career (going splendidly, btw) and how she’s evolved over the course of shooting. Sonam Nair is back at the helm of affairs and Season 2 sees character development, lessons and much more.
One of the first things discussed is why she decided to do it…she’s a successful designer, what made her venture into the world of acting – she has mentioned that she’s always wanted to play a fictional character. Masaba sees as a sort of personal challenge. “There were a lot of compliments for season 1 over my performance. But with every compliment, there was also, ‘But you know you’re playing yourself, that’s easy’ I wanted to do a fictional character for two reasons. One, to prove that I can do the role of a fictional character pretty well. And the second reason was to see for myself what it really means; do I actually really love acting because I’ve had a successful season 1 of my show or do I love acting for what it is? And you know, I proved myself right. I think I love it a lot, I love being in front of the camera, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. So that was a big one for me because I wanted to see if it’s possible to break into another human’s life and take possession of somebody else’s persona when I’ve been myself for so long. So, that was a personal challenge and a little bit of a ‘Hey! Don’t tell me I can’t do anything.’
But isn’t it so much harder to play yourself actually? “Yes, It totally is,” Masaba muses. “When I was on the sets of Modern Love, I remember the director asked me,’Which is harder?’ And playing yourself is way harder because, one, there are so many different ways in which you will react to a thing. There are 10 ways in which I will react to something somebody tells me or tells me about my business or about my mother or about my friend. Secondly, when I’m acting a scene out, and no matter how many times I’ve read the script on Masaba Masaba, there is still that fear that, ‘Oh, my God, I’m doing this, I’m saying this dialogue, what will people think of me?’ But when you’re playing a character, you are never thinking of that, which is why you are so engrossed in it. It’s a straight road that you follow, because it’s like, okay, this character is doing this. I’m not doing this. There is a lot of discomfort when you are playing yourself. And then you think all the damage control that you will have to do after. And sometimes you are breaking open or getting closure on a specific relationship or event in your life through filming that happened on Masaba Masaba.”
Which has us wanting to know what it’s like to be working with her mom, Neena Gupta on sets. Masaba says, “We’re not like mother-daughter on a set at all. And we are very much like co-actors who just do their shot and then go away. The only good thing is, I get better lunches when she’s around because she feeds me. But, it’s nice to see her excited after seeing her being frustrated with the work coming her way for such a large part of her life, that too when she actually had the energy to do more. There are very few people in Indian cinema who can play a character and yet make you feel like a piece of this person is in that character, and I think that’s where she excels. And that, to me, is amazing. And you see that when she’s putting herself on the show as well. You feel like she’s mom to everyone.”
Time is running out and she’s doing a lot of press interviews so we talk about why the show is so relatable. “The reason OTT is doing so well today is that all of the problems that you see that regular people have been through have not been wildly dramatized. You are seeing two people sitting in their living room talking about everyday problems. And through that conversation in a very sensitive soft way, that problem is being solved. Even with Modern Love, the most amount of feedback I got was about the last scene that there was no, sari flying, there was no like music playing. We were just walking around all of Thane and that’s how we fell for each other. And that is the magic of the casualness of everyday life and talking about problems.