Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives isnt quite wholly about wannabes being vacant/vacuous, as I had first imagined
Maheep Kapoor, Neelam Kothari, Seema Khan and Bhavana Pandey in a still from Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives
Cast: Maheep Kapoor, Neelam, Bhavana Pandey, Seema Khan
Don't lie: I'm so gonna check viewership numbers with Netflix, if they're willing to share, for this show (two minutes counts as a view). Because so many of you're gonna secretly cringe-watch this. And I just get to call it work, rather than get snooty on social-media, like its potential audience has—only after the trailer dropped. As if, left to themselves, they meditate on Tarkovsky and Terrence Malik classics at home.
For those not like the above, let me briefly acquaint you with the goings-on in this semi-scripted documentary series, that obviously defies a rating, just so you don't click on it and go, WTF?! It is what it is. Meaning a depiction of the supposedly Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, namely Maheep Kapoor, Bhavana Pandey, Seema Khan, and Neelam—whose husbands Sanjay Kapoor, Chunky Panday, Sohail Khan, were once Bollywood's leading men.
Neelam (with actor husband Samir Soni) was of course a star in her own right in the '80s/'90s. What about these 'aunty socials' do you get to know? That Bhavana is the "spiritual one", Seema, the "muh-fut" (loud mouth), which is quite similar to Maheep, "who says it, like it is," while Neelam, who's narrating this description, is "slightly more guarded."
Basically these are BFFs for two-and-a-half decades running. They run boutique businesses. We're unsure of their balance sheets. But if the extra trolling on Insta, or what to pack for a holiday, are indeed their chief concerns—guess, at least for public, they're doing well in life.
Check out the trailer of Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives here:
The series follows them around group activities. Such as cosmetically spring cleaning a beach, as our Prime Minister does. Or, like Sex And The City 2 (2010), set in Abu Dhabi—an all-girls' trip, stuck to each other, in Doha. This is where they get excited over discounted sale—"60% off, it's like a dream." I'm sorry that ain't no fab life, bubs, stop it; you're sounding like us!
While they're in Bombay, the camera, of course, conveniently glides over all the grime/filth of the street to keep it either indoors, in their homes, or totally accessible restaurants/lounges like Ministry of Crab, Estella, Arth, Foodhaul...
Okay, so is this tameness the totally badnaam, decadent/druggie Bollywood, as a lifestyle space—as against a filmmaking industry—that detractors often harp about? Huh, unless you make too much of the fact that Chunky Panday habitually rushes to the loo every few minutes! No, where's the female equivalent of a Wolf of Wall Street fabulous life, you ask? Can totally see how this series can be a franchise though—done right, it's basically Instagram on TV.
These women on screen are actually brave to have showed up, knowing that they will be so easily torn to shreds further on social media—if not in hushed tones among their own social peers. What's the other thing you instantly notice about them? Their accents, what is it—a strange mix of Soho, and SoBo, swiftly segueing into Saki Naka sometimes! Blame it on the camera, I guess; makes the best of us slightly coy/conscious.
But the series itself—kinda modelled on Real Housewives (of New York/Orange County/Atlanta), or Basketball Wives, etc—mercifully, isn't quite wholly about wannabes being vacant/vacuous, as I had first imagined. Or even a proper take/judgement on a poised, polite society, from the exterior, that looks at perhaps the pettiness/pointless within. That in fact is the genre. The first, slightly shoddy Indian attempt of which I've seen—similarly in the interest of hard-hitting journalism—called Dilli Darlings (on Zee TV)!
Only Karan Johar, mainstream filmmaker, and a man about town—simultaneously straddling multiply concentric social circles—could've pulled off this formal peek into a culture, formerly known as Page 3. If this is Bigg Boss, then Johar plays Bigg Boss. Although the show, hot on the high heels of Netflix's Masaba Masaba, set in the same neighbourhood—with a series of prominent cameos—is perhaps closer to a reality TV version of Johar's chat show, Koffee With Karan.
Unsurprisingly, the actual charm of BTS (behind the scenes) Bollywood, only comes through the super glib and silver-tongued Shah Rukh Khan—making the final 20-30 minutes worth the 270 minutes that precede it. SRK's wife Gauri is Queen Bee of these ladies who lunch. What else did I learn more about?
Paris' Le Bal (second word pronounced like Hindi for hair), where 16 to 20-year-olds from royalty/arts, make a 'debut in [high] society'; whatever. That Anupam Kher got Best Supporting Actor award for a film called Vijay, over Chunky, in Tezaab—and everybody still takes Filmfare seriously!
And, oh, that I still have a childhood crush on Neelam. This show hasn't diminished that at all. Her husband (Samir Soni) is in fact that every-guy, stuck in his girlfriends'/spouses' close gang of giggles—with nothing to contribute, but with an obligation to still be there, night after night. Okay this resonates!
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