I swore I wouldn’t watch the ‘Fabulous lives of Bollywood wives,’ but I succumbed to the buzz out of curiosity. One, to understand the backlash and low ratings, and two, the contradictory trending No.1 show on Netflix across nations. Something was amiss!
Love him or hate him, Karan Johar is laughing all the way to the bank. It’s been a tough year for him with personal attacks on him post-Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. But the man has been tasting success with Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Fabulous lives of Bollywood Wives, and I’m sure his parenting memoir, The Big Thoughts of Little Luv, will also hit the bull’s eye. He might be the punching bag, and people might trash his shows, but he’s the one who’s minting big money.
The show was my bonding time with my mother, as we stole time in-between our busy schedules and watched it in parts over a meal. It’s fun if you accept it for what it is- a peek into the rich and glamorous lifestyle. Also, an excellent marketing strategy to position the brands that the wives own, breathe a fresh new lease of life into their spouses’ careers and build excitement for their offspring before they enter Bollywood.
Yes, the show seemed scripted to the T. But their friendship wasn’t, and that is the secret to the success of this show. You cannot fake decades-old bonds of friendship, and that ease, fun, and camaraderie sparked up the screens. It doesn’t matter how old you are, but it’s yesterday once more when you are with your old friends. It’s like you go back in time and feel youthful and refreshed again. It takes time and effort to nurture and maintain friendships. We all have our gang of friends who love and accept us for who we are. This show reminded me of my inner circle of girlfriends from college. Despite my chronological age, marital status, and motherhood, the gang brings out the girl in me.
I didn’t have any issues with the accent of the wives. We’ve seen so many celebrities putting on accents, so why pick on these wives. Our Indian cricketers have a put-on accent, Salman Khan has it, Priyanka Chopra switches multiple accents. Almost everyone today has it. To label someone fake because of a put-on accent is a tad too judgemental. Honestly, I liked Maheep Kapoor and Neelam Kothari’s accents.
As for the wives, Neelam Kothari is the most well-known name in this season. She is exactly how she was as long as I remember her. She always had this westernized accent and image offscreen going by her old interviews on Lehren, and I found her pairing with Govinda interesting because of their starkly opposite backgrounds. But they still made a fun pair to watch on screen. Neelam continues to carry herself with the same elegance and class today. We get to catch a sneak peek into her personal life with her spouse, Samir Soni, and their adopted daughter Ahana.
Maheep Kapoor comes across as the most domineering person from this lot, who loves to swear like nobody’s business. While she could come across as a total b%^&$ to some, I found her a complete riot. There are women who don’t swear and curse, and some do it at the drop of a hat. It’s good to see women of all shades on-screen, instead of the stereotypical mothers. Maheep is a vain boss woman who has a reticent side to her, and she’s not comfortable being vulnerable. I could relate to her strong maternal side; and found her taking complete ownership of making plans for her girl gang, being the mother hen to her children, and the younger generation in her family endearing. Bonus points for her dig on astrologers, and how none of them could predict the current pandemic.
Bhavana Pandey is a female monk who radiates a Zen-like presence. She’s comfortable in her skin, mature, and a likeable personality. I don’t think she’s ever complained on the show, except for that one catfight where she was involved with Seema Khan, where she asked if the latter never stood up for her; expecting the same from her wasn’t fair. All I knew about Bhavana earlier was that she was an air-hostess that Chunky Pandey saw in a flight, and the rest is history. I found Ananya Pandey, her daughter, surprisingly good for her debut in the Student of the Year 2. Overall, I found Bhavana a focused individual, be it her business or family, and one who has no qualms about aging gracefully.
I will always associate Seema Khan with her trademark naughty laugh post this show. She’s the imp of the lot and the ‘life of the party.’ She has a fabulous screen presence and adds chutzpah to it. The youngest of the wives’ club, Seema, is what she is. She makes a reference to her unconventional marriage, and it was nice to see the affinity between Malaika Arora and her, and the two looking out for one another.
Overall, I didn’t find any of the wives to be airheads as held by public opinion. These are hardworking women, juggling between the responsibilities of home, career, and self.
If there’s one thing I wasn’t too comfortable with on the show, it was the industry’s classism. The wives are getting anxious and excited about Karan Johar, or SRK-Gauri Khan. The covert subservience to power was unsettling to watch. But it is what it is – the stark reality.
The wives know the grind and the deal offered to them. They’ve grabbed it with both their hands. Good for them that the show’s doing well, as it’s their friendship which has worked in their favour, and the show.
If you’re seeking meaning, purpose, and depth, this show is not for you. This is a scripted show by a shrewd film producer who can sniff a business opportunity even among his social circles. So, don’t take everything in the show as the gospel truth and bash it for what it isn’t.
Signing off with Vidya Balan’s iconic dialogue from The Dirty Picture, “Filmein sirf teen cheezo ke wajah se chalti hai: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.”