Netflix’s Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives lacks authenticity, but has the elements of entertainment in place
“Why the f**k should I watch a show about four women who don’t have jobs? Why are these pre-menopausal women getting on my nerves? They all pretend like they work, but what do they actually do?”
These questions are not by the viewers or audiences of Netflix’s new show Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. Rather, producer Karan Johar himself shoots the four protagonists with such criticisms in one of the episodes – ‘preparing’ them for the supposed trolls that might come their way. But just as Johar rightly said, these were the thoughts we all had when it’s trailer was released.
To begin with, Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives explores the life of Maheep Kapoor (Sanjay Kapoor’s wife), Neelam Kothari (Samir Soni’s wife), Seema Khan (Sohail Khan’s wife) and Bhavana Panday (Chunky Panday’s wife). These four women or ‘Bollywood wives’ attempt to tell their life stories — breaking away from the shadow of their husbands. But how successful were they in doing so?
Maheep is the feisty, bold, foul mouthed one who reluctantly admits she’s happy to take care of her home, relegating her career to the backseat. Neelam, who was a star in the 1980s, is the poised and proper one who is in two minds whether she wants to make a comeback in B-town, and has her fair share of tantrums. Bhavana is the sorted and spiritual one in the gang, but has her own insecurities. And lastly, Seema is the cool yet loud one among the group who obsesses over her kids while trying to focus on her career.
Directed by Uttam Domale, the show — which has been largely termed as the desi version of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Sex and the City and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills — lacks the rawness and authenticity that such reality shows offer. From the conversations these women have to how they wake up looking perfect in designer pajamas – everything looks unreal. They are always dressed to the tee, with their makeup in place even when they are doing yoga or are just at home chilling.
But that’s not the only thing that goes wrong in the show. If the audience expects to get an authentic look at what goes on in the lives of Bollywood wives, then they might be offended. All we see in the show is how these women boldly claim that they are ‘vain’ and ‘love their leisure’ (Maheep) or ‘won’t audition but want to make a comeback’ (Neelam).
What about the real struggles apart from the first world problems (like not having the perfect outfit for an event) that they face? Of course when we say problems, we don’t mean making ends meet or something — but more like what’s behind the glam and glitz.
We do get some of it though. For instance in an episode where Shanaya Kapoor (daughter of Maheep and Sanjay) gets trolled after her debut at Le Bal in Paris – Maheep finds herself stressed and seeks nephew Arjun Kapoor’s company to ease her anxiety and talk it out. Well, being famous has its downsides too and this definitely gives us a glimpse of one such.
Many of the instances in the show appears scripted and even if it’s supposed to be that way – it wasn’t subtle — for instance their ‘impromptu’ trip to Doha, or how they were stalked by a man during their trip or a cat fight that takes place between two of the ladies.
The show has plenty of guest appearances – Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Khan, Malaika Arora, Arjun Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Jhanvi Kapoor, Ananya Panday, among others. But the most ‘noteworthy’ one is that by Karan Johar himself. It looks like he has his Koffee with Karan mode on – and often tries to spice things up by creating tension among these women (and even manages to trigger an argument between Bhavana and Seema).
But not all is vain. There are moments which aren’t completely fluff or frivolous. Maheep pours her heart out in one episode and confesses that being the ‘unsuccessful ones’ in a family of successful people can be harsh. Chunky Panday, in one of the most touching moments of the show, holds on to the Filmfare award his daughter Ananya just won – reminiscing the time when he was nominated but did not get one. “It took 34 years for this to come home,” he says with a heavy heart.
Also, Sanjay Kapoor – one of the adored characters in the show – too talks about not getting work for decades even though he belongs to a film family. He goes on to bash the ‘nepotism’ debate – and the audience might agree with him here to some extent. Like a typical desi dad, he shows his possessive side when it comes to Shanaya and himself makes fun of his wife’s ‘French accent.’ Samir Soni appears the most real of the lot. He openly shares how he dislikes Bollywood parties and admits how his lack of social skills often is a disadvantage..
One of the show’s major themes is the friendship these women share – which is almost 25 years old. Undoubtedly, the interactions between them come from a place of ease and comfort. Also, these women show age is just a number – and one’s never too old to have fun with their squad. They curse each other, they get into petty fights yet reconcile and talks about men just like girls actually do. They might make you miss your girl gang as well!
All said and done, Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives is an entertaining and light-hearted watch. It surely has its flaws, and appears a bit of a fluff at times but it attempts to bring something fresh on the plate and might serve your appetite for a guilty pleasure!
(Cover Image: Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives explores the life of Bhavana Panday, Maheep Kapoor, Neelam Kothari Soni and Seema Khan Credit: Netflix)