Give me “Masaba Masaba” any day, among part-fictionalized reality series, because what stays with me from “The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives” is Karan Johar’s on-screen remark, “Why the f*#% should I watch a show about four women who don’t have jobs?” Well, he is right.
This semi-real show is at best a vulgar display of luxuries that these four women enjoy, even more so on screen here, as Dharmatic Entertainment is financing everything from the business class seats in planes to an ostentatious Doha holiday supposedly planned by Maheep and much more. Famous high-end restaurants, pubs and gyms come in obviously, as do celebs in largely token and staged appearances.
Kids, parents and servants also all come in for cameos. There is a cookery exercise wherein Neelam claims her nails have got stained peeling a beetroot. There is artificial and fake drama as a young local man, a fan of Neelam, is “stalking” the foursome in their Doha hotel. There is banter with a man serving the four girls drinks as he is a Frenchman who has come to India but not to Mumbai—he is in Salman Khan (topless) mode and looks dishy, and the women invite him to Mumbai.
We also get a whole lot of medical gobbledygook, which proves that such women should not be given any kind of medicinal help without a strict medical vigil. We also have Bhavana resorting to spiritual healing that keeps her facial skin tight and healthy and Neelam injecting fillers to make her face look fuller.
There is a Seema’s casual tip that proves that poor Salim Khan-saab has never got the contentment of seeing any of his sons enjoying a smooth marriage: Sohail lives “opposite” Seema but they care for each other and their kids, see? Seema even goes on the girls’ holiday in such a way that she barely gets time with elder son Nirvaan, who is studying overseas, when he comes down for as few days for a vacation.
In this eight-episode general yawn of a series (it is impossible to take in more than two episodes at one stretch!), less than eight moments stay with you—and not all for the right reasons either.
One, I liked the reference to Sanjay Kapoor’s career issues vis-a-vis his successful brothers and Maheep talking about it with some praiseworthy frankness.
Two, the Shah Rukh Khan-Gauri Khan episode (the last of the eight) was the only one that connects when they are present, and not only spoke of the Khan couple’s role in their loves but had some honest inputs and moments from all. But Gauri was decidedly listless and looked bored. And I cannot blame her, really. Among the stars that matter today, she heads the roster of “Bollywood Wives” alongside Twinkle Khanna.
Three, the Chunky Pandey sequence with Ananya Panday’s Filmfare trophy seemed totally staged the way it was shot, but somewhere, Chunky seemed to have a core of honesty in his statement that he and his home had waited for it for over 30 years since his debut. He also spoke about his near-miss at one point, and the candid admission that he felt he was a jinx who did not go to the award function so that his daughter got a trophy was also from the heart.
Four, Neelam’s asking everyone all through the series about whether she should make a comeback began to suck. Instead, she could have, as an NRI Gujarati, taking classes in Hindi diction, if not in the 1980s and 1990s, at least now. Her Hindi was and is atrociously accented. And let’s be honest, for all her intelligence and sweet nature, she was no Dimple Kapadia or Sridevi.
Five, among the “guests” here, Janhavi Kapoor made a solid impression with her simple spontaneity. Here’s an actress who can and will make Sridevi and the second Kapoor clan proud down the line. Actually, Shah Rukh and she stole the show!
Six: The lavish overdrive in using the F word by all, including Johar, who paradoxically said that this show will be watched by all, was nauseating to say the least. The most repulsive was Maheep and nephew Arjun Kapoor addressing each other with expletives like “Maheep, you A******!” That was SICK, even by “high-society”’s pseudo-standards and allegedly ‘modern” mores!
Seven: A remark by one of the four about how they could not go shopping in Doha other than in a Rolls-Royce was in rank bad taste and seemed to show desperation about competing with similar shows made in Hollywood.
With due respect, this show can hardly be called anything near “Fabulous” and somewhere, Maheep came across as a stern martinet, Seema as someone short of practical sense and Neelam as a woman who should stick to her jewelry business as she was clearly not serious or passionate about acting.
The only sensible, no-nonsense, normal wife and person seemed to be Bhavana Panday, and we now understand why Chunky is what he is despite his never-a-superstar status, ditto the go-getter Ananya. But frankly, I would rather visit the truly “fabulous” foursome of the fictional “Four More Shots Please!” Life is not always more engrossingly stranger than fiction!
Rating: ** (Just About)
Executive Producers: Karan Johar, Aditya Belnekar, Hetvi Karia & Apoorva Mehta
Directed by: Umesh Domale
Starring: Neelam Kothari Soni, Maheep Kapoor, Bhavana Panday, Seema Khan Sp. App: Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Khan, Chunky Pandey, Samir Soni, Sanjay Kapoor, Sohail Khan, Janhavi Kapoor, Ananya Panday, Raveena Tandon Thadani, Karan Johar, Shanaya Kapoor & others