Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives is now streaming on Netflix and let me give you a heads up- it’s more of a cringe-fest than a binge-fest. The show is anything but fabulous, but then it also depends a lot on how you describe the adjective in your life. But surely, a bunch of absurdly privileged ladies showing off their wealth and promoting a flawed understanding of nepotism was the last thing we needed amidst a global pandemic which has deprived millions.
On top of that, Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives lacks the drama of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, a show it not-so-subtly draws its inspiration from. Neither does it manage to become a love-to-hate-it series like Indian Matchmaking. It instead presents something very bland, and you come out of it learning nothing worthwhile about the lives of these women and everything detestable about the upper-class lifestyle.
The show is directed by Uttam Domale and produced by Karan Johar. It stars Seema Khan, Maheep Kapoor, Bhavana Pandey and Neelam Kothari Soni. Additionally, there are numerous cameos by Bollywood’s biggest celebs, including Arjun Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor, Malaika Arora, Jacqueline Fernandez, Raveena Tandon Thadani, Ekta Kapoor, Gauri Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and others. In fact, Karan Johar himself makes two appearances on the show.
What’s It All About
The show attempts to give us a glimpse into Bollywood’s inner circle as these four lead women are shown juggling friendship, family and careers. These four ladies, as we are told countless times, have been BFFs for over 25 years, and the show documents details from November 2019 to February 2020. Seema Khan is the wife of actor Sohail Khan and a fashion designer. Maheep Kapoor, the wife of Sanjay Kapoor, is a one-time model who also owns a small business. Bhavana Pandey, who is currently a costume designer, is the wife of Chunky Pandey. And last of the quartet is Neelam Kothari Soni, an actress-turned-jewellery designer, the wife of actor Samir Soni.
Put together, we get an ensemble of an upper-class clique, top fashion statements, innumerable cameos and lots of girl-gang banter. This gives the show a look which is quite similar to that of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. On the other hand, there is a David Beckham inspired all-ladies trip to Doha, which will assuredly remind you of the Sex and The City: The Movie where Carrie Bradshaw and her girlfriends take a similar trip to Abu Dhabi. And although we hardly get to see any of the family members, Fabulous Lives manages to tell us about the wives’ domestic lives through face-to-camera interviews.
Everything That Goes Wrong
Even though the show promised to take us inside the lives and homes of these women, there is hardly anything that catches one’s attention or captures the imagination. I mean, here we are, watching four friends who have been together for almost a quarter of a century, and yet there is a weird awkwardness present between the four of them. Whether this might be because of the presence of the camera and/or the scripted setting, it nonetheless makes certain scenes seem rather artificial. We don’t even get a “behind the glamour” glimpse into the lives of these wives as the trailer promised. As a viewer, I expected a lot more than having to merely learn about Maheep Kapoor’s weird fetish for stalking her neighbourhood with a pair of binoculars or Bhavana Panday’s fear of ghosts. Or having to only watch Seema Khan’s perfectionism and put up with Neelam Kothari Soni’s excruciating accent.
Karan Johar clearly wanted to use the platform to underline the nepotism debate, and unsurprisingly the flawed views presented ricochet back to himself and all the actors present onscreen. There is a scene where Maheep and Sanjay Kapoor’s 19-year-old daughter Shanaya is brutally trolled as she takes her first steps as a public figure in preparation for a Bollywood career. The Pandeys too are worried about their daughter Ananya (Panday) and the amount of hate she faces on the internet. But discussions on these conflict points lack the depth and sensitivity it deserves. For even while candidly talking about the amount of work that star-kids have to do in order to hold on to what they have inherited (all the while subtly implying that accusations of nepotism levelled at them are unfounded), we are shown Shanaya Kapoor and Ananya Panday unabashedly extolling their links with the Bollywood biggies.
So watch it if you have time to kill. Or if you want to witness a brazen display of wealth which screams classism from women who are outrightly oblivious to their privileges. Otherwise, there are much better reality shows on Netflix that can provide you with better celebrity gossips than this.
Picture Credit: YouTube ScreenGrab
Views expressed are the author’s own.