Masaba Gupta interview: ‘How I look is always going to be a constraint in the roles I get to play’

Masaba Gupta dons multiple hats. From developing her clothing brand House of Masaba and beauty brand LoveChild to creating and acting in her Netflix India show Masaba Masaba, she’s been everywhere. (Also Read: Interview: Kareena Kapoor assures she is not going ‘bus pakad ke’ Hollywood with The Buckingham Murders)
Masaba Gupta became an actor in 2020 with her Netflix India show Masaba Masaba(Instagram/@masabagupta)

In an exclusive interview, Masaba talks about her newest role of voice acting in the Audible Original, Marvel’s Wastelanders: Black Widow, collaborating with Kareena Kapoor for her new bridal brand campaign, and Season 3 of Masaba Masaba. Excerpts:

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For someone who started acting only three years ago, how does a voice role in Marvel’s Wastelanders: Black Widow add to your growth as an actor?

It was a very, very new avenue. Because I’ve been mostly playing myself in the two seasons of my show, a lot of my acting wasn’t really acting. It was underplaying something. Whether it was based on a real situation or fictional, I had to play it in a way that it wasn’t sounding like a scenario that’s been created. But Marvel and Black Widow were a completely different ballgame.

Firstly, because it was extremely animated. Secondly, when you don’t have a visual attached to something as dramatic as Black Widow, you have to overdo certain lines, sounds, and exchanges. Because the only medium is the voice. You just had to throw your voice a bit harder, to put in that little punch in everything you say. Because it’s a conversation, but doesn’t have to sound like one. That’s what I learnt and took away from it.

Was there any advice from your mother Neena Gupta on using your voice as an actor?

Not really. I just remember my voice getting really exhausted. Because we were doing 3-4 hours of recording every day. I asked my mum what she does and she told me you have to find ways to rest your voice. Because I was working all day then recording or the other way round. She said you have to find ways of pacing that out.

Speaking of your mother, she’s confessed that she initially discouraged you from being an actor because you wouldn’t be accepted in mainstream Hindi cinema because of the way you look. If that’s still a constraint, does voice acting eliminate it completely?

It will always be a constraint in India. I’d like to believe we’ve evolved. But that’s because OTT happened. We got the platform to evolve. It’s not like we consciously chose to evolve. I don’t know. I don’t want to make it look like this: she didn’t get a role in Bollywood so let’s go for TV; if TV doesn’t work out, then try OTT; and if OTT doesn’t work out either, then somewhere else.

Voice in itself is a very powerful, challenging, and I think the toughest medium. Acting is tough because you have to look a certain way. Audio is tougher because your physicality matters so much when you’re using your voice. It’s not like it makes you any less committed towards your craft. Maybe I will get more work in this space because I fit that easily because my Hindi is also good thankfully and I have a half decent voice. So it’s another door that’s opened for me perhaps.

After Black Widow, you also collaborated with Kareena Kapoor for your brand campaign Masaba Bride. How different was it creating something completely different and invested in visuals instead of audio?

Well, very different. Bridal was a new concept for us. It’s the first time I’m working with an actor in such a large capacity. There’s a certain ease that Kareena brings to anything she does, whether it’s an audio show, or an item song, or a full-blown film, or The Buckingham Murders. There’s a certain ease, but at the same time, a shock value that she brings to everything she does, including the Masaba Bride campaign. I thoroughly enjoyed both experiences. You can sense the ease, calm, and effortlessness in her voice when she plays Black Widow.

Speaking of House of Masaba, you recently featured on the Forbes cover for your bridal designs. What has changed now as far as that industry is concerned?

I think brides are becoming more… I wouldn’t say experimental, but a bit more thoughtful of what they’re picking for their big day. Suddenly, price, jewellery, venue have become a matter of discussion. I think today, wedding has become more about the memory. Earlier, weddings were more extravagant, and about showcasing the power and wealth one comes from. Today, it’s become more about, ‘Am I feeling it on my day? Am I liking the food that’s there on my wedding day?’ Brides have become more intimate. More than anyone, they want to experience their wedding day. I don’t want to talk about colour, embroidery and style because there’s always going to be every kind of bride. There isn’t going to be one type. There’s a bride who likes ivory, one who likes rani pink, and one who likes bottle green. But I see them get more outspoken about it.

As you said, you’ve largely played yourself on screen. Are you getting more opportunities to play other characters now?

I do get the opportunities with fictional characters, nothing in the reality space. But nothing has really hit home for me. I have an extremely busy life running two brands and everything on the side. We’ve around 18 stores across the county now. I’ve been absorbing everything that’s happening. So only if something really exciting comes my way will I jump on it. The one-off Black Widow or the one-off something else that comes my way will keep me going, it will keep me on my toes.

So will we see you next in Masaba Masaba Season 3?

Well, fingers crossed. I hope so. We don’t know yet.

Satyadeep Mishra played your ex-husband in Season 1. Now that you’re married to him IRL, and if you plan to show that in Season 3, who’s going to play your new husband? Is that going to be an issue?

(Laughs) I guess. That’s why Netflix seems to be up in confusion about what to do because my personal life has become a bit like Interstellar. It’s gone a bit meta and they don’t know how to deal with that. It’s interesting but I don’t know where the story will go and will take a ship of its own. And maybe we won’t talk about what we’ve been talking about all this while. We may go on a whole new journey altogether. There are so many parallels. If you saw Season 2, we did open some new doors for fresh storylines. But yeah, how to balance my personal and professional, and my real and reel is going to be a challenge.

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