Bitten By The Acting Bug: In Conversation With Masaba Gupta
Having made her mark in the world of fashion, designer Masaba Gupta breaks new ground with a self-titled online series
In Masaba Masaba, you play yourself as a person and as a character. What was that like?
That was actually the hardest bit. The brief was that we are toeing the line between fiction and fact. If I’m too much myself, it wouldn’t be dramatic enough, and too much drama means I have to step back.
How monumental an influence is your mother [Neena Gupta] in your life?
I think we are all conditioned to behave and act like our parents. We consciously try to pick up their positive traits, and when we are old enough we understand which ones we shouldn’t. I am at that stage today where I have learnt a lot from her mistakes. I deal with things differently because my understanding of the world is different from hers. I think the choices I have made are probably different, and even the ones in the future will be.
Did people expect you to follow in her footsteps and be an actor?
Nobody saw me as somebody who could potentially act. In fact, people told me not to follow in her footsteps. I immersed myself in sports. I was playing professional tennis and everybody was like ‘You’d be a sportsman like your father.’ The perception is that somebody who is dark-skinned and looks half-Indian and half-something else can’t become an actor. You hear it even today. I think I wanted to prove to people that it doesn’t matter what you look like, but how well you do the job.
The show deals with the pressures a designer faces to deliver creatively. How did you tackle this during the COVID-19 lockdown?
People think creative people are wired 24x7. The corporatization of fashion has led to this being more rampant. Some guy in a suit will come in and say “You guys need to do six collections.” Designers can’t keep creating just to meet a sales target. The resulting burnout happens very often.
For the first two months of the lockdown, I was very stressed because things were topsy-turvy. But I never believed for a second that I need to work on a new collection or use my time to get inspired. Inspiration is something that comes to you when you are not looking for it.
I think you have to be okay with the idea of saying I choose not to do anything. I decided not to design till the end of the year, instead of putting more pressure on the design team and myself. We make do with what we have.
After Masaba Masaba, have you been bitten by the acting bug?
Somebody asked me “Have you tasted blood?” And I said, “Yes, I have.” Once you enjoy being on set and in front of the camera, I don’t think it ever stops. More than anything in this pandemic, I was dying to do a shoot. I shot a commercial recently and felt alive.
Are you good at spotting a Masaba fake? How does it make you feel?
Yes, I am. Half the prints are not even designed by me but they are tagged as a Masaba print. I feel good. Designer Sabyasachi once said that you can tell the strength of a brand by the power of its copy market. That line never left me.