Formulaic & Forgettable
Arrogant, selfish and self-absorbed, Maska’s main character, Rumi Irani, is not an ideal protagonist. In fact, this is simply the icing on a poorly structured and formulaic cake that struggles to do anything particularly outstanding or unique.
Between the simple story and a few over-acted lines, Maska is designed to be a feel-good movie but to be honest, you’re more likely to come away feeling indifferent.
The story itself revolves around our aforementioned protagonist, Rumi Irani, who finds himself torn in life. After the passing of his Father (whom he can see as a ghost offering advice here and there), Mother Diana is hopeful that Rumi will take over their beloved Irani café for the foreseeable future.
However, Rumi has big dreams of making it as an actor and turns his back on his family to pursue the opportunity of a lifetime. After bagging a girlfriend in record time, Rumi sets to work trying to become the best actor he can while juggling working at the café. When things don’t go Rumi’s way, he begins to despair and that eventually turns to resentment when his much more talented co-worker (and girlfriend) Mallika gets all the star roles.
After whining and bemoaning his luck, Rumi eventually decides to make a big decision regarding the cafe, much to his Mother’s dismay, and hopes that this will catapult him to the big-time. With his mind focused, the arrival of kind-hearted Persis Mistry casts doubts in his mind over whether what he’s doing is right.
It’s all very predictable stuff and it builds up to an equally predictable ending. While the movie is designed to hit the tones of a heartwarming and uplifting Indian picture, this film struggles to really do that, with most of the run-time flatlining into mediocrity.
The biggest problem with the film comes from Rumi himself. He’s just not that likable and while the segments involving his Father are supposed to be funny and amusing, most of the time they’re really not. In fact, his nonchalant attitude toward life and how much he blames everyone else for his own failures really starts to become frustrating to watch after a while.
Doing anything significant in life takes blood, sweat and tears. You’ll be beaten down time and time again but as Rocky Balboa once said “It’s not about how hard you can hit but about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”. Despite promising to be “an ant that keeps climbing”, Rumi’s actions betray his words.
That’s before mentioning the screenplay itself which is dragged out with several long montage shots that could have easily been edited down. As an example, there’s a long tribute to dishes that Rumi’s restaurant serves. The camera zooms down on each individual dish while panning across the restaurant and cutting to Rumi joyously making this food. It’s a nice segment on paper but it goes on for far too long and offsets the pacing of the film. These moments become a regular occurrence across the movie.
Maska has the potential to be a really sweet and enjoyable picture. The components are certainly here to do just that but they’re aligned in a way that feels completely out of sync with the ideas. Between the formulaic, predictable story and the unlikable protagonist that only ever warms up during the third act, there’s very little here to recommend. It’s a shame but unfortunately Maska is not a film to remember.