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A Tale of Bougie Fashionistas and Aging Thespians

By Sidhant Koshi

A semi-fictional Netflix series about the fashionable mother-daughter duo, Neena Gupta and Masaba Gupta. Vanity project? A work of art? Or maybe a bit of both?

I have to be honest. I was skeptical. The idea of reviewing a TV show where two celebrities portray semi-fictional versions of their own lives didn’t really enthral me. This is an idea that has already been used in Hollywood several times. From John Malkovich playing himself in Charlie Kaufaman’s bizzare, cerebral film Being John Malkovich to Joaquin Phoenix in the experimental film I’m Still Here, the concept has been done before. Throw into the mix that since the show revolved around Masaba a lot more, I expected a cringe-worthy dive into the world of Indian fashion, something along the lines of Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion.

I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the series. It may not be ground-breaking or earth-shattering content and not pushing the envelope further in any way ,but it’s a light-hearted look into the lives of Neena and Masaba Gupta with a many laughs sprinkled around. I was genuinely surprised at how funny the show was and how many times it made me chuckle. The bond between mother and daughter is depicted beautifully. It is a refreshing look at the lives of two people e considered celebrities by the general public. But the fashion aspect of Masaba Masaba cannot be overpowered by other narratives. After all, it is based on the life of Masaba Gupta ,who is breaking stereotypes in the contemporary Indian fashion industry with her designs. The fictionalised process of coming up with a new collection for her fashion line is honestly depicted. The new collection called ‘the hot mess’ is about real women and their real problems in their lives. It’s not only fashionable but also quite empowering. Masaba herself believes in women empowerment ,and her collection conveys it well. Neena Gupta is also seen wearing Masaba’s collection throughout the series, and every time she puts on one of her daughter’s designs, she certainly stands out. That’s the thing about this duo.Even their clothes complement each other’s personalities.

The series shows us the struggle that Masab Gupta (the character) faces maintaining a perfect work-life balance, while having a designer’s block. It also shows us Neena Gupta ,whor is unable to find work as an actor because she’s 60 years old despite being a national warad winner. This aspect of the show was compelling as it took from Neena Gupta’s real-life experience of not receiving any work at this age, but it also highlights the problem that Indian industry has of giving older people, any meaningful jobs, especially women. Neena Gupta’s acting was unsurprisingly, really well done, but Masaba really surprised me with her acting as this was her debut in front of the camera. Show creator Sonam Nair must be given credit for her direction. The cinematography of the show was also well done.

This doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of its flaws. The show makes the strange decision of turning to parody, the bougie world of the fashion industry ,and the empty promises of Bollywood, but unfortunately, it comes off as hypocritical because both the leads are also a part of the same industries that the show is mocking. The writing is contrived and cliched in certain parts as well. The show hasn’t got the ‘re-watch' factor to it as it isn’t trying to say anything too deep or too layered. It’s more of a light, airy show. All in all, I would say that this show was a pleasant surprise with an ideal wardrobe, a fashionable mother-daughter duo ,and the ‘hot mess’ life in the film & fashion industry. It is definitely worth a one-time watch!

Edited by Muskan Tyagi & Palak Malhotra