You're lying to yourself if you say you didn't binge Netflix India's new show - Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, over the weekend. If you haven’t heard it’s a new reality series centred around the glamorous lifestyle and 20-year long friendship of four wives (Sanjay Kapoor's wife, Sohail Khan's wife, Chunky Pandey's wife and Samir Soni's wife) in the industry. While Maheep Kapoor, Seema Khan and Bhavana Pandey's greatest claim to fame are their actor spouses, Neelam Kothari (Samir Soni's wife) is the only one to have a film legacy in Bollywood.
The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives has flavours of Sex and the City, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. There are luncheons, shopping sprees, international trips and a little drama between the ladies. But what really stole the show is Shah Rukh Khan's emotional and witty cameo in the finale. Karan Johar, the producer of the show, also made several appearances with the boss ladies and like in every Koffee With Karan show, tried to stir up some drama. Despite the show being overly-scripted, it has one redeeming quality- it's outrageous fun. Like most reality TV, it is a binge-worthy guilty pleasure as it entices people into knowing how Bollywood's inner circle lives.
We love to hate reality TV as our generation will religiously watch trash television and then tweet threads about it. It's hard to look away at the controversy, drama and shock value, right? It's also insanely interesting to watch how the uber-rich lead their lives. Most of us don't experience such luxury so we'd rather be voyeurs to their lavish, beautiful and expensive adventures and enter the ultimate form of escapism.
Why we couldn't get our eyes off the Bollywood wives
The reality series was an easy-watch, it didn't have educational or preachy content and didn't require any analysis from us. It was just pure controversy and confrontation which we could mindlessly devour. For a few hours, we weren't worried about our jobs, relationships and future but we were preoccupied with "rich-people problems", for example, "why Seema got upset with Bhavna during the lunch?"
We saw the Kapoors fly to Paris for their daughter's debutante ball and how the ladies traversed around Mumbai in Audi’s and Rolls Royce with glammed up looks and perfectly styled hair. The friends casually plan an international trip, get a mid-day blowout and the morning after a fancy dinner decide to go to a beach clean-up! (but only because Maheep Kapoor forced them to do so). Overall, there's a lot for the audience to be enamoured by.
The cameos are interesting, with Arjun Kapoor visiting his aunt - Maheep Kapoor and giving her advice on dealing with internet trolls. Then we also see Maheep invite Jahnvi Kapoor over for lunch on Valentine's Day. Malaika Arora making a short appearance when she joined Seema Khan for a yoga class and Ekta Kapoor talking to Neelam Kothari about her comeback are also among the cameo list.
There are also discussions on cosmetic surgery, social media, fashion, friendship, careers and their kids which humanise the powerful Bollywood wives for the audiences. Some events in the show are random with beach clean-ups entering the picture, a Doha trip where the girl gang face their fears and Neelam encountering a stalker?! But maybe that was their way of condensing the ladies' fabulous lives into eight 20-minute long episodes.
If you analyse it, which we suggest you don't, the show appears like a marketing gimmick for several things - the star kids' entry into Bollywood, Bhavana Pandey and Seema Khan's label and Neelam's possible comeback on the big screen. However, regardless of the implicit messages, display of wealth, classism, the ladies' inflexible views on nepotism in Bollywood, as KJo said on Twitter, " you can love the fabulous wives, troll them, but you sure as hell cannot ignore them."
Netflix has been on a trashy reality series spree
With shows like "Love Is Blind", "Too Hot to Handle" and "Dating Around", Netflix has been releasing reality shows quite often. With absurd premises like the one in "Too Hot To Handle", the streaming platform isn't afraid to appear trashy or superficial - but they also know how entertaining it is. Even in "Love is Blind", the contestants were expected to get married on the show which is nothing short of crazy. Depends on whether you enjoy reality TV, you would be glad or indifferent to the fact that Netflix is set to renew most of their shows for further seasons and have more reality TV content coming.