We all have a hideout wherein we like to spend some time while enjoying a hearty cup of tea along with some bite-sized delicacies, such as the humble bun maska. Maska, starring Manisha Koirala, Prit Kamani and Jaaved Jaffrey, is a light-hearted film that portrays the generational conflict between a mother, played by the cheerful and bubbly Manisha Koirala and her stubborn but cute son Rumi, played by Prit Kamani.
Daina is a middle-aged widow who runs an Irani cafe named Cafe Rustom. Daina wants Rumi to run the cafe, but he is least interested in taking forward the rich and illustrious legacy left behind by his ancestors. Rumi wants to become an actor and plans to sell the ramshackled settlement in order to raise funds for his acting debut. The rest of the film deals with the various conflicts that occur between the old lady and her son.
Quite honestly, the story has nothing new to offer and follows a very predictable path. But you will love the film for its honesty and innocence. Furthermore, the story brings to light the rich legacy of the Irani cafes, many of which have now been replaced by the CCDs and the Starbucks of the world. Ah, makes one realise that commercialisation is not the best of alternatives in some cases.
Rustom Cafe has been shown as something way more than just a cafe. It is a ‘refuge’ where people get to spend some quality time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This good old Irani Cafe in Mumbai is the favourite of many of the elderly couples residing in the vicinity. But Rumi plans to sell it in order to realise his dream of making it big in the world of showbiz.
Manisha Koirala, who plays a stout and stubborn widowed Parsi woman, is the fulcrum around which the entire film rotates. She is your old-school Parsi mom who thinks that legacy is far superior to any monetary gain. Also, she gifts her husband’s belongings to her son on her birthday. All of this in a bid to bring back the ‘Rustam’ of the Rustam Cafe.
Some of the film’s most soulful sequences feature Manisha Koirala and Prit Kamani. Even when she scolds her son for moving out of their ancestral house, you feel a sense of warmth engulfing the mom-son duo. Also, she brings him money when Rumi is having a hard time while living with his girlfriend. Makes one realise that moms always help, no questions asked.
Up next on our list is the much adorable Jaaved Jaffrey, and boy, his warm on-screen presence makes you go gushy-mushy right from the outset. He plays a funny and comical ‘aatma’ of sorts and keeps making his presence felt with some catchy one-liners, with one of those being “Gravity is a myth, the earth sucks’. Well, this one really caught my attention.
Talking of dialogues, the film has a set of catchy dialogues, such as the one between Persis and Rumi:
The world isn’t made up of atoms, Rumi. It’s made up of stories’. See, I always knew science had little to do with humans and their emotions.
Prit Kamani has a raw but charming presence that will stay with you for long. For the most part, he keeps finding ways to sell the cafe but decides against doing so after reading his friend Persis’ coffee-table book. Ah, books, I tell you, can be quite inspiring at times.
Both Shirley Sethia (Persis) and Nikita Dutta (Mallika) haven’t been given much screen time. Dutta talks at length about the perils of married life while Sethia talks about Ikigai (the reason for being), and guess what, our teenage hero finds his Ikigai after going through a coffee-table book.
Here’s a good thing about this film: Neeraj Udhwani, the man behind the camera, knows what he is doing. He has a set of well-defined characters to bank on and infuses a considerable degree of ‘freshness’ into the film’s narrative despite having a cliche story to work with.
To top it all, this is a film baked with a lot of love, warmth, and innocence. Also, Manisha Koirala holds this film together whenever it loses steam. The plot is predictable, even more so the execution, but the film succeeds in delivering a powerful message woven around legacy. Also, some of the film’s most enticing sequences have been shot in and around the kitchen area. All in all, the movie makes for a decent one-time watch.