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10 Thoughts I Had While Cringe-Binging Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives. Mainly, Naya Kya Bola?

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When Netflix announced The Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives, there was a unanimous two-fold emotion that I detected in the audience. “Oh my god, this is so cringe why is Netflix cancelling good shows and bringing us this?” And “But you know what? I’m still going to binge the hell out of this I just know it.” World, welcome to the cringe binge, where we pretend to be snobs who have better tastes but are secretly indulging our voyeuristic desires to know what’s up in other people’s lives. Or as I like to call it, just another Tuesday in Maheep Kapoor’s rose-tinted binocular wala life. It’s not exactly new, this trend. I mean how long has Bigg Boss been on air for, again? Or even Koffee With Karan? How was this show, featuring Seema Khan, Bhavna Pandey, Neelam Kothari Soni and Maheep Kapoor, any different than an eight-hour long episode of KWK?

 

During one of the episodes, Karan Johar, who just drops by randomly on the show to spike this otherwise thanda coffee, asks the four women why anyone would wanna watch a show about their lives. The women laugh it off, and then give a “Yeah, this is what it is, take it or leave it” kinda non-committal response to it. Now let me tell you, I watched this show twice—once of my own volition, and second, when I was writhing with period cramps, and the living room couch angle felt perfectly comfy to ease my pain but just happened to be the place where my mother was watching the show so I just went with it. And despite the double viewing, I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why exactly then did they make the show?

Also Read: 10 Thoughts I Had While Watching The Trailer Of Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives. Mainly Ki, It’s Going To Be Cringe, But I’m Going To Watch It

What new insights did the show have to offer? We already know that these celebrities live the gala life. We know their fights are frivolous. We know that their arguments against nepotism feel absolutely rational to them. And we know that their first world problems are superficial enough and will never ever be relatable to us plebs. Now if you were going to give us some real scandal, some actual emotions, some bare naked truth about what it is like to be wives of actors who, as Maheep puts it, are the “unsuccessful family”…. Or how the social media trolling and paparazzi attention can be really scary and hurtful? Or how just surviving on their fame isn’t enough and the tensions that come with running their own businesses? That would’ve been something. Instead, we got a Sex And The City movie. And that two SATC 2, which, can we all agree, sucked?

Nevertheless, just because the series couldn’t be insightful, doesn’t mean we cannot, right? So here are the thoughts I had while watching Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. It might get a little intense, but know it’s not at all fake, like that fight between Seema Khan and Bhavna Pandey. *sniggers*

1. Accents, English, and a language that is foul for a very different reason

Neelam’s accent bothered me. But nothing prepared me for how mindnumbingly annoying it would get over the course of eight episodes. And believe me, I am a very tolerant person. I was able to overlook the sing-song accents of A Suitable Boy and actually enjoy the show, but OMG, Neelam, can you not? Are you seriously considering returning to movies with that accent?

Can we also talk about the utter lack of Hindi in their lives? Honey, it’s the reason your kids are always going to suck at dialogue delivery and emotion in the Hindi movies they act in! Because you never spoke to them in that language at home, and neither did their fancy schools teach it to them!

’Stupid cow’ is more of an insult to the person who talks like that than to the person who is being called that. Just, FYI.

2. Just give me a show about their husbands, please?

For a show that is about Bollywood ‘wives’, it does a fabulous job of glossing over the women’s relationships with their husbands. For starters, are we not going to talk about Seema Khan and Sohail Khan’s living arrangement? Is this Bollywood wife estranged from her husband? But he’s still out there to ‘support her’ so what’s the deal? That’s just bad storytelling.

Sameer Soni seems like a mood. He clearly thought socialising with a bunch of fluff-headed peeps was not a part of his KRAs when he got married. I want his take on every Bollywood celeb. Heck, I want him to do a show where he reads Bollywood celeb raashi phal!

I thought there was so much emotion to be minted off Chunky Pandey and Sanjay Kapoor, and their dad humour and self-deprecation. I loved how Kapoor got all Punjabi Papa at Le Bal, and even mentioned the ‘Ananya Pandey struggle meme’! They’ve seen the not-so-glam side of Bollywood. I want their fears, insecurities and worries for their children who’re about to walk down that path. Every time these two appeared on screen is when I felt something. But then they were shushed by their wives or dismissed within seconds.

Whoever took that creative decision… you stupid cow!

Side note: HOW IS NEELAM A BOLLYWOOD WIFE? SHE IS THE BOLLYWOOD STAR IN THAT RELATIONSHIP FFS!

3. Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives should’ve been Kandid With Karan. But we just got Kandi with Karan. The ‘D’ for drama was literally missing!

Love him, hate him, you cannot deny that Karan Johar can get celebs to be real candid due to the camaraderie and comfort level he shares with them. Since this is his show, he could’ve put this all to good use and gotten a little more out of them. Instead, he just drops by one time to lagaao kaandi and incite a fight that was all bark and no bite. And the second time he appears, what does he do again? Nothing.

4. Most of the cameos felt like a clever effort to humanise these wives. But they missed the beat.

Believe it or not, I enjoyed the cameos so much more than the actual subjects of the show. Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora, Ekta Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor and others, heck, even Jet Li… they were all there to show you a human side of these glamazon wives. Oh look, they have insecurities about how they look or are perceived by other people. Oh wow, they seem bothered by trolls. Awww, they are mommies with barely any time to take care of their careers.

To all of this, I will quote Malaika Arora and say, “That’s just bullshit.” The guests were all speaking rather sensibly but what I got from the wives was a truck load of excuses and frivolous problems. Now, look, I get it. I get that in the position they are in, these are their problems. It would be dumb of me to expect them to have issues that are below their social and economic standing. This is a superficial industry after all. But basic human emotions seemed to be lacking! Or maybe, the setting was injected with too much botox and unable to put across the right emotions.

5. Such a missed opportunity to score a few points for the other side of the nepotism debate.

I seem to quote Maheep a lot because she did seem to be the ‘wise mommy’ of them all. And when she posed the question on whether the privilege that their kids have should not be exercised by them from fear of nepotism persecution, I genuinely thought we could’ve had a sensible discussion over it.

Nepotism exists in every industry. And I totally think that not using the goodwill and power that our parents and grandparents have built over years of hard work would be a waste. But how deserving are these kids? As Arjun Kapoor said, Jahaan Kapoor doesn’t even speak Hindi FFS! So where’s the talent that makes him eligible to use that privilege and score one over another talented outsider?

Moreover, there are a lot of other issues, the dark side of being part of an illustrious film family, that could’ve been highlighted here, especially for the Khans and Kapoors. But instead, we just got a one-off mention of it and that was it. What a waste.

Also Read: Celina Jaitly Weighs In On Nepotism Debate, Says Star Kids Have Immunity From The Sexual Harassment Rampant In Bollywood.

6. Bhavna Pandey felt the most sensible and relatable of the lot. And I cannot believe she was made to feel bad for it!

The one time that someone made some sense—Bhavna Pandey talking about not getting in the middle of a catfight—she was made to feel horrible about it. Bollywood is all about camps and testing loyalties at every step. It’s hard to keep your friends through all of that, let alone do it for so long. So you totally understand why Bhavna wanted to be “on the fence” when two of her friends were in a fight. And what did she get for trying to foster peace? She had to apologise!

IMO, I thought Bhavna’s story, with her trying to start her own business, the struggle with investors, her frustration of her daughter constantly needing her to be available, believing in astrology, and even Chunky’s candidness, it all made for very relatable moments. I also got the vibe that this industry and its people cannot understand the grey, in which most people live their lives. It either has to be black or white.

7. That time Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives was a Sex And The City 2 rip-off….

I mean, I cannot begin to start pointing out the similarities, starting with characterisations (Maheep’s clearly Samantha), the Middle-Eastern all-girls trip and the confusion about where all that money’s coming from if their husbands are not successful in their careers and the ladies’ own businesses aren’t exactly being taken seriously.

But theek hai, I thought these two episodes were kinda fun. I enjoyed watching the mind-boggling lives of the super rich—the hotels, the shopping, the luxury. But I thought some of the most fun moments came when they were doing that sky ride, or reliving each other’s origin stories through 90s nostalgia and gushing about Ranveer Singh being the hottest.

As an obsessive Baba fan, this was the only moment of truth on the whole show. And Maheep Kapoor, I wanna tell you about your need to be on set with RS… SAME, girl. SAME.

8. Watched the whole show just to see Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan power walk. And those 15 mins were worth it.

That music. That entry. That dimpled smile he flashed every time some complimented him. Uff! Shah Rukh Khan is the undisputed king of charm. He would’ve been there for, what, 15 mins tops? But that one segment had more heart than the entire show. It was again one of the clever cameos that I talked about earlier, where they tried to humanise the relationships between these four women. Only this time, because it was handled by the OG Baadshah of human emotions, it did the trick.

And then just like that, the ladies did that video call to add the pandemic relevance, cited their first world problems, and ruined the whole vibe.

9. WHY HINT AT SOMETHING AND THEN NOT TELL US ABOUT IT? WHY?

So throughout the show, there are these random statements thrown around about why someone is close to a particular person. Or that fight between Seema Khan and Bhavna Pandey about an unnamed person, who despite insistence from Karan Johar, does not get named. Or Neelam referring to something Gauri Khan and SRK did for her at a difficult time in her life but not going into specifics. It frustrated me that they just touched upon a bunch of these things without actually giving us anything that might’ve endeared their relationships to us even more.

Then why even bring it up in the first place? Give context, give details, give us a little more to go on.

10. What was the point of this show? Here’s my guess.

This show is an inside joke that only the people who made it can understand. Because what else could it be?

Parting thoughts about Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives

I think the show tells us more about us, the viewers who chose to watch it, than it does about its subjects. I’ve always been someone who is very aware of my privilege, which means I know exactly when to shut up about it. I mean, I may own it, flaunt it on my Instagram or Snapchat, but what I definitely won’t be stupid enough to do, especially during the exact moment that the country has entered recession, is to showcase it, wrapped it plush cashmere, to an audience that already hates my guts right now.

I honestly don’t know what Dharmatic or the people who participated in this charade were thinking. Itna galat timing to be tooting your glamazon horn, especially when Bollywood’s rep is under serious threat. Most of the time it felt like we were the unpopular kid who was invited to sit at the popular jock table, and become privy to only those secrets that they chose to tell us. But then, we already get that treatment from their carefully measured social media presence and strategically placed news items about their lives. What new did you have to offer?

But this is the era of everything cringe—from pop to drama to TikTok videos and reels—getting more love than genuine good content. So yes, I will binge on that cringe you offer me on the silver platter. Thank you, next?

#Culture: Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking’ Cast Reveals Their Side Of The Story. Is There Redemption For Arranged Marriages After All?

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