The Fame Game Review: Madhuri Dixit’s Netflix Series Is Superficial Dharma at Its Best

The Fame Recreation — the brand new Netflix sequence with Madhuri Dixit Nene, now streaming — at its coronary heart, needs to be an examination of the darkish aspect of being a celeb. That explains the title swap from the extra intriguing and psychological Discovering Anamika to the plainer and extra generic The Fame Recreation. By means of its new title, the makers posit, it’ll dive into the cult of stardom. And who higher to guide such a TV present than one among Bollywood’s greatest yesteryear “superstars” in Dixit Nene. However regardless of being made by a few of the greatest insiders on the town — Karan Johar is a producer — The Fame Recreation has little or no of concrete to say concerning the underbelly of being well-known. If something, it comes throughout as fan fiction at occasions, like outsiders projecting what they hear within the information. It ought to supply a deeper reflection — however too typically, it finally ends up treading in clichés and surface-level observations.

It does not assist that The Fame Recreation is poor on most accounts. The dialogue is both empty, horrible, or superficial. Characters converse extremely of others to convey their greatness to the viewers. Actors ship traces as if they’re being learn off the web page. It is a signal of poor course too, which rears its head elsewhere with scenes heightened for no motive. I saved ready for deeper, smarter conversations to occur however they by no means got here. If fictitious characters are going to have mundane conversations, why am I watching this? TV writers spend weeks and months on their scripts, their interactions need to really feel richer than what we are saying in actual time. I’ve seen six of the eight episodes — that is what Netflix gave us critics entry to — and it will take a miracle for The Fame Recreation to get any higher from right here on.

Sri Rao — a co-writer on the “catastrophically silly” 2016 sci-fi romantic drama Baar Baar Dekho — is credited because the creator, author, and showrunner on The Fame Recreation, so a lot of the blame lies there. Bejoy Nambiar (Wazir, Shaitan) and Karishma Kohli (Mentalhood, the fluffy Karisma Kapoor comedy-drama sequence) direct The Fame Recreation episodes. Nambiar was hailed as a new-wave filmmaker submit Shaitan, however he is been on a downward curve since. Amita Vyas, Shreya Bhattacharya, and Akshat Ghildial (Badhaai Ho, Badhaai Do) function Hindi dialogue writers. Vyas and Bhattacharya appear to be in-house Netflix writers, given their involvement on different Indian originals.

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Except for its thematic failures, The Fame Recreation crumbles structurally too. The brand new Indian Netflix sequence is designed as a missing-persons detective thriller — it largely consists of a cut up timeline, with current day operating in parallel with flashbacks that begin six months previous to the incident — which requires creating an atmosphere and a temper for its universe that the viewers goes to be immersed in. However tonal consistency is seemingly not a topic that has been taught to those writers. As a result of 5 minutes in, The Fame Recreation makes use of its casting of the erstwhile Bollywood musical queen with a million-dollar smile to offer us a music and dance sequence that is not in line with what the sequence is supposed to be. It is a wholly synthetic fan service inclusion — and it occurs greater than as soon as.

At one level early in The Fame Recreation’s first episode, a personality laments that “the fool director does not know what they’re doing. They only maintain ballooning the funds. I gave them every part: costumes, units, areas. So many workshops and so they ship a crap film?” In that scene, the character is speaking a couple of film they’re producing — however that is precisely how I additionally felt concerning the new Netflix sequence. Properly, save for that appearing workshop bit. As a result of clearly there was none of that.

The Fame Recreation primarily follows the Anands. Dixit Nene performs Bollywood star Anamika “Anu” Anand (née Vijju Joshi), the only real earner of the household who’s holding onto her fame for she believes she has nothing else. Her husband Nikhil Extra (Sanjay Kapoor) has little affection for his spouse, and her mom (Suhasini Muley) claims to do every part for them however she is biting, caustic, and feels she does not get the respect she deserves. Each have cash issues which have depleted Anamika’s funds — unbeknownst to her. Her youngest Amara “Amu” Anand (Muskkaan Jaferi) craves the limelight like her mom, as she needs to be greater than “Anamika’s daughter”. And her troubled depressed homosexual son Avinash “Avi” Anand (Lakshvir Singh Saran) lashes out at everybody in his life who attempt to look after him.

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Muskkaan Jaferi as Amara Anand, Lakshvir Singh Saran as Avinash Anand in The Fame Recreation
Picture Credit score: Siddharth Halbe/Netflix

After Anamika goes lacking, the highlight lands on everybody she knew. Outdoors of the Anands, The Fame Recreation’s ensemble consists of three others — there’s the divorced bipolar star Manish Khanna (Manav Kaul) who has historical past with Anamika although they have not seen one another in 20 years initially of the brand new Netflix sequence. And there is an orphaned younger man (Gagan Arora) who’s obsessive about Anamika to an insane diploma, stalking her each time he will get an opportunity. Investigating all of them is the lesbian ACP Shobha Trivedi (Rajshri Deshpande) who, originally, dismisses the entire thing as “a bloody Bollywood case.” Approaching the again of two years the place Bollywood stars and their progeny have been dragged by the mud to go well with the nationwide agenda, it feels bizarre. Why are Rao and Co. intentionally fuelling a bad-faith political witch-hunt?

Extra importantly although, The Fame Recreation fails as each a detective story and an ensemble piece. The early investigation scenes pale compared to the likes of Knives Out, with The Fame Recreation serving as stark proof of Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig working on one other aircraft. However the brand new Indian Netflix sequence does not attempt to be Knives Out for too lengthy. Trivedi comes and goes out of The Fame Recreation, together with her private life handled in minor forgettable vignettes, as if the remainder of her scenes had been excised on the edit desk. It is principally concerning the lives of Anamika and people round her for the six months main as much as her disappearance — however it’s everywhere though the household takes up a lot of the oxygen. Mainly, they’re boring, be it the husband, two youngsters, the mom, or the servant (Shubhangi Latkar).

However The Fame Recreation’s greatest crime is in considering it’s tackling one thing greater. The Netflix sequence ruffles by main subjects akin to psychological well being, physique picture, home abuse, and fan and celeb tradition. (It is also cute of Dharma to namecheck nepotism in its present.) Besides it is fooling nobody — solely itself. On the finish of the day, these are merely propped-up causes to boost the thriller round Anamika’s disappearance. The Fame Recreation isn’t any You are the Worst, GLOW, or Massive Little Lies. I’ve already famous my disappointment with the final of these — stardom — and The Fame Recreation even wilfully ignores how the business works at occasions to go well with its narrative. Rao does not have something significant to say, which is how we find yourself with fluffy jokes across the time period “comeback car”.

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Manav Kaul as Manish Khanna, Madhuri Dixit Nene as Anamika Anand, Sanjay Kapoor as Nikhil Extra in The Fame Recreation
Picture Credit score: Siddharth Halbe/Netflix

A bolder sequence would have the tongue-in-cheek audacity to take a dig at its star’s personal “comeback” makes an attempt. Dixit Nene, who left Bollywood on the flip of the century after her marriage, has been making sporadic however repeated makes an attempt to re-enter the business since 2007. Beginning with the tasteless Aaja Nachle, then the wonderful Dedh Ishqiya in 2014, and the high-profile misfire Kalank — additionally from Johar’s Dharma — in 2019. There have been extra forgettable entries right here and there, however they’ve been all motion pictures.

The Fame Recreation is Dixit Nene’s first-ever episodic function — she was a visitor star in a single episode of the 1985 Doordarshan sequence Paying Visitor — and it wanted to be much less tame. If Bollywood’s yesteryear veterans are going to usher themselves into what was purported to be the brand new period of streaming filmmaking, then it must imply one thing greater than this. It must try for greater than this. As a result of when all is claimed and achieved, The Fame Recreation is a variation on what Bollywood has served up a thousand occasions earlier than.

I can not say if she was consulted, however perhaps Dixit Nene did not have the braveness to be that open and self-referential. She’s taking part in it too protected right here, probably too involved about her picture that has been rigorously crafted and managed over many years. If Dixit Nene believes any of this materials is fashionable or difficult, then Bollywood stars actually do reside in a manufactured world of their very own.

As a result of finally, The Fame Recreation is simply too shiny and synthetic. It is not sufficient to easily evoke nostalgia, pull these chords, put Dixit Nene in quite a lot of attractive flowing costumes — she and two different top-billed stars have their very own particular costume designer — and name it a day.

The brand new Indian Netflix sequence thinks it is being uncooked and digging its nails into the darkish aspect of stardom. However in actuality, The Fame Recreation is simply too meek to deal with any of that. And by affiliation, Dixit Nene appears too afraid to upend any a part of her storied legacy.

The Fame Recreation launched February 25 at 1:30pm IST on Netflix worldwide.

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