- BOTTOM LINE
A Breezy Show With Fine Performances
|Platform: Aha||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Drawing its inspiration from one of the longest-running US-sitcoms in the 80s and the 90s Cheers, Masti’s addresses various complexities in modern-day relationships driven by lust, ambition, greed and manipulation. The show revolves around six characters – the owner of a bar and adman Pranav (Navdeep), his better half Gowri (Bindu Madhavi), a bar waitress Lekha (Chandni Chowdary), its supervisor Anand (Raju Chembolu), a band singer Tanya (Hebah Patel) and a model Simran (Akshara Gowda). Their lives are intertwined with the bar in many ways than one. With a couple of closeted affairs out in the open, life is never going to be the same for this bunch.
Navdeep, as in the past, seems very well suited to play a role who’s moral epicentre isn’t right always. He brings a certain amount of dignity and class to the character despite its not-so-great intentions. Though he’s a womaniser of sorts here, Navdeep makes us feel for a man who was never probably the marriage-material. It’s good to see Bindu Madhavi back to the Telugu industry after a break. Her portrayal of a modern woman, who’s independent in her thoughts and selfless in a relationship at the time, exudes confidence.
Chandini Chowdary is finally finding her feet in roles where the screen-space may not be great but works in terms of impact. There’s a purpose to the character in the story – say her idea of looking down upon middle-class lives initially, the desire to be financially strong and realising the wider picture of life after an emotional breakdown, thereby giving Chandini an interesting arc.
Hebah Patel’s character Tanya is so-so in terms of writing. Though it’s impressive that the character she plays takes charge of a situation with a hint of intelligence, it’s time filmmakers looked at the actor beyond an ever-vivacious ball of energy. Raja Chembolu, Akshara Gowda don’t get the well-fleshed out roles they may have deserved, but come up with fine performances to make their presence felt.
Masti’s is the closest that the Telugu digital space has got in representing the concerns of an urban lot right. Here are characters that are ambitious, unremorseful and have a firm purpose to their lives – they have clear goals beyond their love interests. When was the last time, a series had a womaniser in the forefront, who’s married, and in a relationship with two women at the same time and yet he isn’t looked down upon as a curse for humanity? The lines between good and bad are blurred here. The story humanises each of its characters and portrays them with their flaws, neither condescendingly nor with a hint of glorification.
But, does the writing have the range to explore their characterisation to the fullest? Probably not. The best part about Masti’s is still its effort to do away with anything over-the-top. If the show has a peaking point, it’s the sequence where the protagonist’s ad campaign is leaked and he’s very much in trouble. Pranav is in a vulnerable situation where one of his girlfriends is pregnant, while the other accuses him of merely using her to satiate his lust. The complexity is compounded and this is where the truest intentions of the characters come to the fore. The drama is certainly pulpy for the viewer.
The tension is also palpable where his wife Gowri is very close to finding her husband with Simran in the caravan. Interestingly, the makers chose a condom-ad backdrop for a casanova of a lead character. The segment dealing with the struggles of a band that’s yet to make it big is hardly convincing though. They reduce the issues in a band to a triangular love story about two men who refuse to give up on their ex-girlfriend. Beyond the differentiation between English and Telugu numbers, there’s no concrete discussion on music either.
Naming a character Bantu (because it sells better than Bunty apparently), inspired by Ala Vaikunthapuramulo, is an instance of taking self-branding (the film was produced by Geetha Arts, the brains behind the Aha platform). A handful of Ilayaraja numbers ensures some nostalgia. The lead vocalist Tanya, could have been given a better motivation to form a band than to fend a mother reduced to a wheelchair. One wished the series explored more of Anand as well, the supervisor in the bar, the quintessential good guy who is tired of facing rejection.
A good thing that the series does is to normalise divorce, without trying to villainise anyone involved in the relationship. It’s certainly progressive to hear a female character (in Telugu content especially) say that life after divorce would be helpful to fulfil dreams of her own. The series ends with each of its characters (re)starting their careers/life on a new slate. The second season could probably be worth the wait too. The lightness in the treatment, the brief thrills, make this a watchable fare. Ajay Bhuyan’s experience with the digital medium seems to have paid off well.
Music and Other Departments?
It’s a not-so-great sign for a series whose subplot is about music and yet doesn’t pay heed to its quality in the show. The focus on a few singles/originals produced by the band in the story would have largely helped the authenticity of the material. The background, however, is decent.
The cinematography and the art director certainly have an eye for building the right visual atmosphere through the show – the costumes, the props, the colour play and the grand canvas are catchy on the eyes. The dialogues have a liberal mix of English and Telugu and are significantly urban in their tone.
Lack of emotional depth
The segment about the Telugu band
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Masti’s Review Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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