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Review: With a Stellar Madhuri Dixit 'The Fame Game' Makes For a Fun Binge Watch
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Review: With a Stellar Madhuri Dixit 'The Fame Game' Makes For a Fun Binge Watch

'The Fame Game' stars Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Kapoor, Manav Kaul, and Suhasini Muley.

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Movie Reviews
5 min read

Review: With a Stellar Madhuri Dixit 'The Fame Game' Makes For a Fun Binge Watch

Can I just say before anything else how exciting it always is to see Madhuri Dixit on screen? She is just a joy to look at. She carries herself with a strength, elegance, and dignity that hasn’t faded at all over the years. I watch her films from 20 years ago, from a time when I was a toddler, and feel that perhaps the rest of us are growing older and she, only aging like fine wine.

That smile and her history of being a classically trained dancer mixed with the sweetness with which she speaks in Marathi? Has me floored. It is safe to say that she is a breath of fresh air always and this show is no different (now that I’m done fangirling).

Madhuri Dixit in The Fame Game.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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Strong female leads that aren’t in high school or college, or small-town girls with struggles of their own, this is a space still unexplored in much of Indian content.

With the energy of Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, this show is about glitz, glamour, darkness, falling dynasties, and broken, damaged, and rotting people.

For those who remember and loved Desperate Housewives in the 2000’s (and for those who haven’t watched that, absolutely should. It was glorious) The Fame Game has a similar universe - peaceful suburbia, grand homes, grand designs and dark pasts, secrets, and realities. The picture-perfect life that exists only for those - the pictures.

Madhuri, is spot on in every scene and it is a joy to see her dancing on screen after so long. Major nostalgia. Sanjay Kapoor is at his intolerable best. For a man who has won my heart on Netflix’s other reality show about the life of his wife and her friends as a humble and loving goofball, he is very good in this as just the opposite.

Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Kapoor in The Fame Game.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Ruthless, selfish, and the perfect portrayal of what declining, insecure men become when warped and thwarted by their desires and gluttony. Suhasini Mulay, Manav Kaul, and Rajshri Deshpande deliver wonderful performances. Not a moment lapsed, not a beat missed. The set design, music, costumes, and visuals are, as usual, Netflix quality and top-notch.

The story is in itself very simple yet, captivating. A beautiful woman, one of India’s most successful actresses seems to have it all - money, fame, fans who adore her and would do anything for her, glory, and as if this was not enough, she also has the perfect domestic life.

A big garden, a bigger house, two children and a supportive husband, and even a seemingly business-minded mother - but the cracks begin to appear. Is there more than meets the eye? The son with the injuries, the husband with the temper, a daughter who is yet to accept herself - what really is going on behind the perfect smiles?

Madhuri Dixit as Anamika Anand with her son Avinash in The Fame Game.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Then, just as we begin to learn how different real life is from reel life for our lead heroine, she vanishes. poof. Gone. One night, it’s almost as if Cinderella is running down the steps to make it home by midnight but as soon as the clock strikes 12, it is nothing but fairy dust and a mirage. She is nowhere to be found. It is here that things begin to come undone in this world and starts a nationwide search for India’s beloved sweetheart.

Madhuri Dixit in The Fame Game.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The screenplay does a stellar job of setting up and propelling the story forward, it wastes no time. We know very soon who these people are and what makes them tick and I think one of the most charming things about the story and the way it is presented in the screenplay is that while everything is fresh, it is still very familiar.

We see these people and we know such people and we know their struggles because they are all very real and universal but where the show falters is that, perhaps because of their familiarity, we can predict what they will do in the coming few minutes. Each character is a well-known archetype and while that works in principle, it sometimes lacks an extra dollop of oomph.

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Men who are willing to pimp out their wives, people who exploit, gamble, and live of off others’ hard-earned money and feel not an ounce of guilt for hurting them, young children who drown their sorrows, solitude, and teenage angst in drugs and alcohol and young girls who struggle with themselves, the show has it all.

Muskkaan Jaferi plays Ananmika Anand's daughter in The Fame Game.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Young friendship, manipulation in the name of love, lies, and betrayal for money, broken homes divorced or otherwise, and unhappy marriages, The Fame Game deals with a lot more and is a lot more than just being a mystery, a thriller about a woman who disappears for whom the entire nation is looking for.

The show has that crumbling empire, colours on the walls fading, kings born deformed thanks to the generations of inbreeding and festering wounds and rot of age of old royalty-like setup. Here, everything glitters and glimmers but is infested with maggots inside.

The Fame Game is also much about gender, sexuality, and female identity politics. It is a show with much of its focus on women and their experiences, be it Madhuri as the heroine, Rajshri as a cop, or Suhasini Mulay as the tough matriarch. The men take a backseat and let the women drive and very consciously so.

The few men shown in enough light are deeply flawed and therefore, there are no traditional “heroes” in sight, making the whole thing far more exciting, reminiscent of shows like the ones I mentioned at the beginning of this review.

The Fame Game is one of Netflix India’s better offerings and makes for a fun binge experience. While Russia breaks the world’s heart and Putin establishes himself as a true war criminal and we all pray and hope for Ukraine, this comes as a good distraction from these harsh realities at perhaps the right time.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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