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‘Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives’ review: Rich and almost famous

This Netflix reality show about the glamorous wives of four film stars is more mockumentary than tell-all exposé

'Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives' features plenty of bling, some bubbly and a lot of vacuity
'Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives' features plenty of bling, some bubbly and a lot of vacuity

If you don't need to google the names Bhavana Pandey, Maheep Kapoor, Neelam Kothari Soni and Seema Khan, you might be slightly curious about a show centred around these four Bollywood wives. While Pandey, Kapoor and Khan’s greatest claim to fame are their Bollywood spouses (Chunky Pandey, Sanjay Kapoor and Sohail Khan respectively), Kothari Soni (married to actor Samir Soni) is the only one of the quartet to have made a mark as a film star before marrying or pivoting to jewellery design.

Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives is a PG-13 mash up of Sex and the City, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Keeping Up with The Kardashians and Four More Shots Please. There’s plenty of bling, some bubbly and a lot of vacuity.

The series comes across more as a showcase to promote brands, businesses and foreign destinations, glossing over one clearly fractured marriage, casually sidestepping controversies and barely flirting with reality. You rarely see the ladies without make-up or having a bad hair day, not even when they are on a Zoom call with each other.

A combination of situations and on-camera interviews captures their thoughts on parenting, cosmetic surgery, social media, fashion, 25 years of friendship, careers, and so on. Absurdity strikes when they wear coordinated outfits and boots to participate in an early morning beach clean-up. The next thing you know they are jetting off to Doha, during which Seema has to overcome a fear of flying and where Neelam encounters a stalker. By this point you are sure that everything that is happening here is by design, right from Shanaya Kapoor’s debut at Le Bal in Paris to the launch of Bhavana Pandey’s prêt label and talk of Neelam’s comeback to the big screen.

With perfectly blow-dried hair and carefully curated outfits, the women, men and children in the show are clearly aware of the camera and crew showcasing their lives.

Karan Johar pops up a few times to stir things up and also weed out some truths. You expect a rapid fire round and gift hamper will follow. If there is a flow to the show it comes from the ease between the foursome, not just with each other but also in front of the camera. My favourite moments are the ones between wives and husbands where you actually see the most candour and vulnerability.

The eight-part series is more mockumentary (probably unintentionally) than a tell-all, fly-on-the-wall peek into these glamorous lives. To use the most frequent adjective (expletives aside) on the show, the “fab” part here is the appearance of Shah Rukh Khan. But before that, prepare to wade through seven unapologetic episodes of excess.

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