Masaba Gupta and Ritwik Bhowmik on Modern Love, ghosting, bad dates and their easy chemistry

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Masaba Gupta and Ritwik Bhowmik on Modern Love, ghosting, bad dates and their easy chemistry


Masaba Gupta and Ritwik Bhowmik’s ‘I Love Thane’ has received unanimous praise from all quarters. The short, directed by the inimitable Dhruv Sehgal, is a part of Modern Love Mumbai – a desi take on the critically acclaimed international anthology series, Modern Love. In ‘I Love Thane’, Masaba plays the role of a landscape artist who is pretty jaded with the dating scene. I mean, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? We’ve all done those innumerable rounds of dating apps where we chat for hours with a person we hope will be the Raj to our Simran – or vice versa. Unfortunately, life is not a YRF movie and ‘I Love Thane’ shows that. There’s nothing life-changing about the short – it doesn’t deal with some big moral story but it’s just so damn relatable. Ritwik Bhowmick turns up at the right time and says all the right things and wooes us all, especially Masaba Gupta’s Saiba. In an exclusive interview with Filmfare, the duo got chatting about all things love …

First off, congratulations on the success of ‘I love Thane’, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a very comforting watch. It didn’t deal with a life-shattering thing, it’s just something that had happened.

Masaba: Yeah, someone told me it felt like a really soothing love letter, like a long soothing love letter, but yeah that’s what it felt like. Just comfort.

So tell me what are your personal connections to Thane?

Masaba: Uh none (laughs). I have only been to Thane not more than four or five times in my life and they have been usually for shoots. And I have to kick myself because people who live there truly seem happier. They seem more at ease, they seem calmer. They were also looking better, I guess because it was so green. I was telling someone that when I went to see my dad in the islands a couple of weeks back. You know how people there just look happy? They look all flushed and at peace at all times and that’s what I think the people of Thane look like to me. A little bit stuck in time but still very, very happy.

Ritwik: I, fortunately, have a very close connection to Thane, I grew up in Thane and spent around eight years there and here I am, doing a film called ‘I love Thane’ getting so much love for being a person who’s representing a character from Thane. I guess it’s the circle of life.

What is the secret sauce between your characters, why did it click between the two of you?

Ritwik: Did we click for you?

Yes, you guys clicked because you were very comforting. I didn’t have to think too much, I could just watch this and be happy.

Ritwik: That was one of our secret ingredients. What else did we add to the sauce, Masaba?

Masaba: The need to not please the other, I think that is the secret sauce, to be honest. I am getting that from many people. I want to see it again to understand what was working a bit more but you know when you think of a date? I think of a couple meeting over and over again, in this case, they are meeting for work but they eventually get together. The crux of everything is ‘when are they gonna kiss?’ ‘When are they gonna sleep with each other?’ ‘what’s the date gonna be like?’ ‘When is she going to start wearing some pretty, cute or sexy clothes to impress him?’ You see none of that here. As Dhruv says, the everydayness of the characters is what clicks. The fact that they are just being. I think it is also very, very hard to find somebody else who is on the same wavelength of everydayness. And I think that is the secret sauce.

It is interesting you bring up the ‘dress cute’ thing. It might just be a silly observation but when the two of you were near the lake on the show, I saw pores on your faces. Maybe I am not used to seeing it on shows but I really focused on it. And I was like ‘oh, that’s so normal’. She has just gone to work and this is a guy that she has no interest in yet. That was something I really liked.

Masaba: We actually spent a lot of time on the look test for Saiba’s character. For example, the fact that I had to have barely any makeup on was one. The second was that she always has this sort of flat liner which I as a person never do. I was always like ‘this is so bad, this liner’. And at the same time, you see that her hair is never fully done. There are always a few flyaways, there’s something sticking out. Even her shoes are always casual, her nails are never done. So the fact that she is comfortable sitting at this lake in broad daylight, talking to a guy and she is comfortable with the way she looks in her skin. I think that also got a lot of people excited because it is exhausting to always put on a show and a face. I don’t always want to dress up. And she’s got her ponytail and bun up, I don’t think there’s a third hairstyle. And you know what the beauty of that scene? When I say that “Your friends must have told you that I got caught kissing a guy who’s in class” … the way he responded. Because for me it is such a big deal and it’s the same for so many women. The fact that your past, your history and the gossip are always going to come in the way of this guy that you might be interested in. The fact that he said ‘yeah, didn’t say anything and anyway let’s move on’. And I was like ‘wow that is such a powerful scene’. Otherwise, everyone else would have been like ‘you kissed a guy?’ and a judgment has been made. The fact that there were no judgments was really nice.

There was a scene that talked about ghosting and I wanted to ask you, have either of you ever been ghosted in real life?

Ritwik: No.

Masaba: I have. Ritwik’s had a pretty colorful and beautiful dating life, never had a bad date.

Ritwik: Or maybe it’s just too few to actually have comparisons.

Masaba: Yeah, I have been ghosted a bunch of times.

Masaba Gupta

And neither of you have ghosted people I am assuming?

Masaba: I have also ghosted. But for good reason, I’d like to believe that.

Ritwik: I don’t think I have ever ghosted but I have canceled plans many times ki ‘sorry aaj nahi hone wala’.

Masaba, your character is very understated in the show. There were scenes where I felt that you would be a little louder maybe because of ‘Masaba Masaba’ but you weren’t. Was that something that Dhruv and you discussed or did it come naturally?

Masaba: We had a lot of discussions, a lot of prep work, and maybe 4-5 days of the workshop as well where I just kept getting more and more grounded. I mean that even physically where my body language had to be restrained. When I came on board, I think Saiba’s character was set in stone. Even the way she is breathing at certain times, it never changes. I did a lot of breathwork and I also did a lot of spine release work. A lot of the work I did was physical because I had to be calm and Dhruv kept telling me through the shoot that ‘everything she is saying, she’s saying to herself, it is her inner voice, but she is brave enough to say it out loud. ‘ Even when she says ‘fuck off’ in that scene to Prateik, it’s so subtle. There is no screaming or shouting and that has nothing to do with the fact that she is still a strong, independent woman. It’s just that she is calm and she has a stillness to her which we had to do a lot of work on because I am a very animated person.

Masaba Gupta

And Ritwik – are you similar to Parth or absolutely different?

Ritwik: Of course when you play a character, there is a part of you that is always being played on screen so in that way, there are many similarities between Parth and me. But in general, I feel like we’re different in many ways. The way we have been brought up, the exposure we have had, and the kind of choices we have made. But at the same time, I feel like every time I play a character, I feel that ‘of course, there’s gonna be a part of me and that character so there are similarities there.

Masaba Gupta

For both of you, this disillusionment of millennial romance, do you vibe with that? Do you feel that purane zamane mein there used to be true love and abhi toh nahi hai ‘?

Ritwik: See what you say that you connected within the show is hope, the hope that there is love at the end of the tunnel. So if the hope remains whether the hope is of us zamane ka ya is zamane ka, love will remain. So if hope remains, love will remain beautiful. If you take hope out of love for any generation, it is just another thing you feel for a few minutes and move on.

Masaba: Every generation, every romance has its challenges and pros and cons. Back in the day, while it was true love, sometimes it would get a little toxic right? It’s just that now everything is more public. Even back then, I think there were open relationships and infidelity, many things which are not considered the norm in a relationship. Even today I think we’re dealing with this stuff, it’s just now everything is very public. It is out there for everyone to see. I personally am a little bit of an old school.

Masaba, would you date Parth in real life and Ritwiik, would you date Saiba in real life?

Ritwik: I think I only date Saibas, most people I have dated are very similar to Saibas.

Masaba: Yeah same. In fact, my first boyfriend was a replica of Parth. That is who I’m attracted to generally in life. Even with the friends I make, I would be very good friends with Parth and also date him of course.

How has your idea of ​​love changed over time?

Masaba: My idea of ​​love I think … I have slowly grown up, right? So my idea of ​​a fairy tale has changed. The fact that one single person can fulfill every single need in your life, you are taught that when you grow up, like this man will come into your life and take charge. I don’t think that’s true, you take charge. So I think that’s definitely changed.

Ritwik: I think I have grown out of love taking chances at me to me now trying to take a chance at love. So I think that has changed.

Masaba: Listen guys!

Ritwik: Oh god! I think I’ve just had a very good lunch today (laughs).

What has been the worst date that you’ve been on?

Ritwik: I haven’t been on a bad date.

Masaba: Can I answer for Ritwik please, he’s never been on a bad date.

Ritwik: I mean that date might have been the only time I’ve been out with the person but not necessarily bad. For bad dates, the kind of stories I have heard from my friends. Then I feel like ‘boss I have never had any bad date so far’. Although I have heard people have many bad dates.

Masaba: I have had a couple, I have been on bad dates. But I have also been on good ones. You know I get very irritated when I can’t eat properly, I am somebody who loves my food and loves to eat it muh kholke. I was on one date where I felt like I was being judged by the way I was eating a sizzler. There is no elegant way of eating a sizzler because each time you cut something, something is flying, something is happening. So yeah that was a bad one where I was just being judged for eating my aloo and my chaval.

Ritwik: Chuck something at him only, with your spoon.

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