The fact that Madhuri Dixit made her OTT debut was always going to generate interest. This follows the recent trend of 90s Bollywood actresses finding a sort of second chance at fame in web shows produced by well-liked streaming services. In Aarya, Sushmita Sen had a fierce comeback, while in Aranyak, Raveena Tandon too made a dramatic exit. In the guise of the eight-episode Netflix series The Fame Game, Madhuri Dixit, one of the indisputable queens of Bollywood in the 1990s, now has the chance to make a comeback.
This extensive introduction addressing Dixit’s return to our screens is required. because she is the focal point and the story’s main character. The Fame Game centres on the life of Bollywood celebrity and arguably one of the most well-known actresses, Anamika Anand. The story opens with her abrupt disappearance, and once ACP Shobha Trivedi joins the investigation, she slowly begins to uncover Anamika’s secrets, revealing uncomfortable truths about both her and her family as well as her close friends.
The new genre of storytelling that Indian Streaming Services has chosen to create combines a thriller with a family drama. Any genre mix has the drawback that both genres should receive equal consideration and care. The Fame Game’s premise will undoubtedly centre on the thriller element because thrillers guarantee a quick fix of adrenaline for the viewer. A viewer will be drawn into a story by the allure of anticipating and revelling in the luridness and confusion of a thriller. The family drama is meant to keep the viewer entertained for the required number of hours despite its complexity and tawdry nature. The goal is for this mystery and the family issues to coexist until the climax builds. The Fame Game additionally benefited from depicting a tale about the private lives of Bollywood actresses, tawdry particulars, relationships, and serotonin, which would be a given sort of entertainment on a basic level. The Fame Game would have been successful in that regard if it weren’t so lengthy.
A serial binge-watcher wouldn’t have any trouble completing an 8-episode show with 45 minutes between them. The catch is that in order to retain that level of attention, each type of tale, revelation, or character beat must be presented in an engaging manner. In this story, there are two timelines in play. The things that happened before Anamika vanished and the things that happen after she vanishes.
The main issue arises when the show stops emphasising Anamika’s story. She was the main appeal, according to prior marketing, perhaps because of Madhuri Dixit’s commanding screen presence and radiant personality. Therefore, The Fame Game is interesting when it concentrates on the main mystery surrounding her absence, how she is responding to the events taking place in her life, or the backstory of her life, which is only disappointingly hinted at. Her on-screen and off-screen chemistry with Manav Kaul, who plays Manish Khanna, as well as her marriage in private and in front of an attentive audience were both hot topics. This is one of the few things I could say about the programme that gives the contradiction of a celebrity’s life some sense of subtlety and sympathy.
Perhaps the appearance of sensitivity is intended to demonstrate that these magical creatures, who we, as fans, want to elevate, are actually just regular people. However, this kind of humanization can occasionally turn into a style of storytelling that is almost defensive or apologetic. a way to acknowledge privilege and nepotism while also highlighting the many issues with expectations placed on these people as a result of their status as the stars’ offspring. These appear to be layers of character development on paper. These are needless backstories on the screen because of the shoddy and formulaic writing, which drags the story down. Additionally, it doesn’t help that the show’s characters openly criticise these nepotism-related problems. Self-awareness is valued, but too much of it can come across as arrogant or, worse, laziness. One of the main issues with subplots is the needless history that drags these supporting characters. The writers’ ideas for engaging side stories are in no way related to what the public wants to see. More intriguing were the backstories of Anamika’s mother, her dependable carer, her background, and the reasons behind her mother’s desire to govern the household with an iron grip. Instead, the creators extend these arcs by possibly one or two episodes. Some of the character arcs could have benefited from being more plausible. They didn’t feel required to be included, and more crucially, they weren’t sufficiently developed. This is valid, particularly for Amara’s story, Anamika’s daughter. It’s difficult to believe what she does in the end because her character is so innocent and annoying at times. The addition of Anamika’s son Avinash might seem superfluous, but at least his storyline is consistent with the notion of self-acceptance and self-discovery, which even Anamika’s character attempts to replicate and process throughout The Fame Game. The most offensive subplot is that of Madhav, an obsessive follower of Anamika, whose story intersects with Amara’s and gives the whole thing a sense of unbelievable plausibility.
The show finally gets back on track in the last two episodes, returns to the action, and begins to reveal the intricate layers it had been hinting at for the preceding six hours. Although it would be a stretch to describe the outcome as satisfying, The Fame Game does occasionally display a surprising amount of dexterity and character beats, particularly when dealing with Manish and his mental health difficulties. The glossy shine, the appearance of affluence and grandeur, and the superficial air that the show had throughout its existence are also somewhat diminished in these final two episodes. That would have been a much better change of tone than basking in that power, dealing with the idea of wealth, or even just being a little self-aware and making fun of them. But this storytelling is taken very seriously on the programme. However, it devolves into a tedious affair, with the investigators more concerned in outlining the motives to the audience than engaging in intriguing ways to draw them into the mystery themselves.
But often to The Fame Game’s detriment, Madhuri Dixit devotees find The Fame Game to be catnip. It is a love letter to fans, with dance routines and references to her earlier works both literally and in speech. Furthermore, Dixit deserves the praise because she is superb in the part. She is nearly incandescent, and whenever she is on screen, the show is interesting, thus there isn’t much to criticise about her here. The remainder of the cast delivers flawless performances. The Fame Game is filled with fantastic performances, which manage to elevate this show to a level where length and pacing aren’t as important factors. These performances range from Sanjay Kapoor, who gives one of the best second innings of his career playing complex characters, to Manav Kaul, who exhibits enough acting talent to become the show’s heartbeat. Other standout performances come from Muskaan Jafferi as Amara and Lakshvir Saran as Avinash.
See More: The Fame Game Ending, Explained: Who Was Behind The Anamika Anand s Disappearance?