Even though the debut season of The Fame Game, starring Bollywood icon Madhuri Dixit, has its fair share of tropes, it still offers eight very bingeable episodes filled with twists and turns as everyone tries to figure out the whereabouts of a legendary actress.
This review of The Fame Game season 1 includes certain spoilers. Proceed with caution.
Created by Sri Rao, even though the story didn’t have anything new to say about the life of Bollywood actors behind all the glitz and glamor, I found the cast of characters to be very intriguing. Madhuri Dixit gave every scene her all as she interacted with a very capable cast. The quick pace made the episodes, each being approximately 40 minutes long, feel even shorter.
Being Dixit’s first streaming series, in my opinion, The Fame Game included everything her longtime fans will enjoy. The storyline allowed Dixit to express a range of emotions as she played a fictional woman trying to balance being a mother, lover, and a famous actress named Anamika Anand.
Anamika went missing in the first five minutes, and the narrative then jumped back and forth through the past and present, sharing clues to help the audience understand what led to the unfortunate event. Anamika’s definitely alive, held by a mysterious captor, but for how long?
On the high-profile case, we got police officer Shobha (Rajshri Deshpande). Through her, and numerous flashbacks, the audience is told that Anamika’s not exactly who she portrayed herself to be in front of the media and, in a sense, even her family.
As a queer woman doing police work, I liked how the narrative handled the casual sexism and homophobia Shobha faced. I also liked how the writers included some scenes to flesh out Shobha’s relationship with her wife and the legalities surrounding two lesbian woman wanting to raise a child together in India.
Speaking of queer representation, other queer characters included Anamika’s longtime makeup artist Billy (Kashyap Shangari) and Anamika’s young son Avinash (Lakshvir Saran). I could feel some queer vibes coming from Avi while I was watching the trailer. My suspicions were proven correct when Avi’s storyline progressed to involve coming out of the closet as a young gay man and figuring out his feelings toward his best friend Samar (Danish Sood).
In my opinion, Avi and Samar’s relationship growing into something romantic was handled well. While it took some time for Avi to confess his feelings to Samar, it did make for a cute little scene as the two young men got ready to start a new chapter together.
While Anamika’s supportive of Avi, and wants him to find love because she couldn’t when she was young, there’s tension between Avi and his father, Nikhil More (Sanjay Kapoor). There’s a scene in episode 7 where an angry Nikhil got physical with Avi and Samar after finding them in bed together. As far as I could tell, I don’t think Nikhil beat the two young men because he’s homophobic. Nikhil’s got anger issues and he had just learned a massive truth about Avi (which had nothing to do with him being queer). That’s why I think Nikhil was just venting his frustration by physically attacking Avi and Samar because they were easy targets rather than going after them because they were queer.
I say this because if Nikhil was actually homophobic he would have continued to confront Avi due to them living in the same house, especially after Anamika’s disappearance. Nikhil also wouldn’t have apologized to Avi for his actions so soon and agreed with Avi and Samar attending the premiere of Anamika’s latest film as a couple.
With Avi’s storyline involving accepting his sexuality and being suspicious of Nikhil’s motives, Avi’s sister Amara (Muskkaan Jaaferi) got a character arc focused on her trying to break free of Anamika’s shadow. As someone who wanted to pursue her dream of acting, there were numerous issues Amara’s had to deal with as she tried her hardest to make a name for herself without being compared to her mother every step of the way.
Kudos to both Saran and Jaaferi for delivering very strong performances. Jaaferi’s scene with Dixit where she cried about not being as beautiful as her superstar mother was amazing. I watched it twice during my first viewing session! There’s just something very captivating about how Amara started in the debut episode and what she become during the finale. So good!
And while I was expecting to roll my eyes at Amara’s budding relationship with Madhav (Gagan Arora), a fan obsessed with Anamika, I found myself being intrigued by the dynamics between the two characters. I have a feeling Amara’s going to learn the hard way just how dangerous Madhav’s capable of being if and when this show returns for a second outing.
Talking about the adults, Anamika’s character arc was that of a woman longing to be free after being controlled by her mother, Kalyani (Suhasini Mulay), and later the tag-team formed by Kalyani (Suhasini Mulay) and Anamika’s film producer husband Nikhil. It was disheartening to see Anamika come to the realization of how Nikhil and Kalyani had continued to use her hard-earned money through the decades.
With an ex-lover, Manish (Manav Kaul), reentering her life as the male lead of her latest film, it made sense for Anamika to find the strength to finally take a stand in front of Kalyani and Nikhil. However, things grew more complicated than initially expected. While I liked Manish as a character, my only gripe would be the writers using Manish being bipolar to cause drama.
All in all, while nothing new, The Fame Game made for a satisfying bingeable experience due to the impressive performances and numerous twists and turns. One of the things I enjoyed about this series is how it actually showed a lot instead of just telling what the characters might have done offscreen as the mystery heated up.
Due to how everything connected in the finale, The Fame Game ended up being a show you should view at least twice. I say this because there were certain acting decisions that made a lot of sense once you got to learn about the entire story.
The Fame Game season 1 was released on Netflix on February 25, 2022.
I hope it comes back for a season 2 soon!
Have you watched The Fame Game? What did you think of it?
Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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