The Fame Game rambles, fumbles as Madhuri dazzles

Madhuri Dixit Nene in The Fame Game. Photo: Netflix

Madhuri Dixit Nene dazzles.

In a role with a lot of meat despite the script ambiguities, inconsistencies and even improbabilities, Madhuri shines as Anamika, the star who is past her prime, yet not passé, a wife who is torn between duty and home and her personal wishes and ambitions, and a mother who is totally loyal to her kids, at all costs. She has a dark secret, and as we go along, we find she has another as well…

And in the game of fame, she has paid the full price and more, from childhood to the time where she is going to do a film that is aimed unabashedly at the box-office.

Now let us come to her issues: her husband (Sanjay Kapoor), though he loves her in his own eccentric way, is a complete parasite, and when needed, unscrupulous, even with her. Ditto her mother (Suhasini Mulay). Her kids have their own conflicts—son Avi has had trouble with his sexual orientation and has attempted suicide, and daughter Amara has a massive complex as she feels that she is no match to her mother’s look and charisma.

We also have Anamika’s old flame and past co-star, Manish (Manav Kaul), who has loved her then, even as she wed Nikhil. He is divorced from his wife and cares for his daughter Tabitha (Ayesha Kaduskar). Having reunited with Anamika now for a film, he does not want to lose her this time.

Meanwhile, there is Madhav (Gagan Arora), an obsessed fan of Anamika who has his own agenda. And there is also the angle of the new film, produced by Nikhil, landing into financial trouble.

Amidst all this, and a flip-flop (past and present) narration, Anamika goes missing. And a cop, Shobha (Rajshri Deshpande), who looks down upon actors and film people, is placed in charge, asking blunt and inconvenient questions. There is also an out-of-work painter (Makarand Deshpande), Shobha’s disgruntled boss, and her girlfriend (yes, she is a homosexual too, like Avi!) and finally Anamika’s loyal make-up man Billy (Kashyap Shangari).

The problem with the series principally is that it cannot make up its mind on whether it is going to be a thriller mystery, a romantic triangle, or a social family drama with issues and tussles galore. Topics like nepotism, comebacks and box-office constraints are thrown around and there is also a sudden lunge into suspense at almost every episode’s end. The earlier episodes are dreary and things pick up only midway. But the end, meant to be impactful, is downright silly and almost farcical, with many things unexplained.

The clumsy writing and direction (Bejoy Nambiar makes weird movies like Shaitan, David and Wazir), and his attempt to go mainstream falls on its face here as the show rambles and fumbles through needless complexities and the even more convoluted narrations.

For example, it would not have made an iota of difference to the series if Anamika’s son and the cop had not been gay.

The technical aspects try to save the show, but ultimately, the series is neither here nor there, yet another scathing indicator of the fact today that many top stars, ironically, only see their roles and not the totality of the product.

Sanjay Kapoor as Nilesh is restrained and generally effective, but Manav Kaul as a superstar is totally miscast, in the way he is presented to begin with. He looks and behaves like anything but a superstar. Suhasini Mulay, Lakshvir Singh Saran, Rajshri Deshpande, Musskaan Jafferi, Gagan Arora and Ayesha Kaduskar are all superbly cast and several pats are deserved by the casting directors (Karan Mally & Nandini Shrikent).

Wish the writers and directors had deserved that too. The rating below is basically for Madhuri and the expectations that were skillfully ballooned up from episodes 5 onwards. Until the pin prick that finished it all at the end.

Rating: **1/2

Netflix presents Dharmatic Entertainment’s The Fame Game  Created by: Sri Rao Produced by: Karan Johar & Somen Mishra  Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar & Karishma Kohli  Written by: Shreya Bhattacharya, Akshat Ghildial, Sri Rao, Amita Vyas & Nisha Mehta Music: Andrew Orkin & Harini Raghavan  Starring: Madhuri Dixit Nene, Sanjay Kapoor, Suhasini Mulay, Manav Kaul, Muskaan Jafferi, Rajshri Deshpande, Lakshvir Singh Saran, Gagan Arora, Danish Sood, Kashyap Shangari, Shubhangi Latkar, Makarand Deshpande, Ayesha Kaduskar, Harpreet Vir Singh, Veenah Naair & others




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