Cast: Madhuri Dixit Nene, Manav Kaul, Sanjay Kapoor, Rajshri Deshpande, Suhasini Mulay, Lakshvir Saran, Muskkaan Jaferi, and ensemble.
Creator: Sri Rao.
Director: Sri Rao, Karishma Kohli, and Bejoy Nambiar.
Streaming On: Netflix
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: Around 50 Minutes Each Episode.
The Fame Game Review: What’s It About:
Anamika Khanna (Madhuri Dixit Nene), an irreplaceable superstar who has the world under her feet. She rules her world (at least she feels that way). But little does she know, that her existence for her family is no more than a puppet. One fine day she disappears and the hell breaks loose. Where is Anamika? Who is she? And does the world really bother? Is the story.
The Fame Game Review: What Works:
The Fame Game, as the name suggests is about people in the limelight, but Sri Rao in his writing and creation of the show decides to indulge in the dark shadow of that spotlight where the real game takes place. He builds a character that seems impeccable, perfect and idealistic in all senses. But can someone pull off a facade all their life? The game takes an unusual turn and everything is put to test.
Sri Rao walks the riskiest path of creating characters for a show. He blurs the line between reel and real while creating two of his most pivotal characters. Anamika passes too close to what Madhuri Dixit Nene actually is. Be it her career trajectory or the aura. The filmmaker goes meta in the sketching. He doesn’t create fictional content to define Anamika’s filmography, but ends up using Madhuri’s stills from her movies. Kalank is the favourite. So it is hard to believe that Anamika is not Madhuri and at the same time Madhuri is playing Anamika. Amid all of this is a painter who paints posters of movies on the walls of cinema halls. If you aren’t aware, MF Hussain did the same in his early years, and the painter was highly obsessed with Madhuri. Another real-life reference.
Manav Kaul gets just a hint of Shah Rukh Khan’s personality. Manish is a charming superstar in his late age. He lives life King size and has a Mannat resembling mansion. Together Anamika and Manish are the most sought after couple in Bollywood. The writing by Sri and his group of writers then takes these close to reality but not real characters and weave a world. Where secrets are hidden and they can destroy lives.
The screenplay is divided into two sections. First the present and then the past. What leaves a mark are the flashbacks. You literally see a woman evolve from strength to strength. But at the same time you realise she is oppressed too, though sweetly, but she is still used for gains by others. There is a beautiful scene where the world’s collides and you see a young Anamika and the present-day star running from something. The world looks three-dimensional at that point.
Sri Rao, Karishma Kohli, and Bejoy Nambiar have their specific styles of filmmaking and you can see it clearly who has handled what aspect.
There is also awareness. The show does acknowledge the problems with the industry. Name changes, Pay disparity, age gap, gender inequality, mothers taking decisions for female actors and using them as puppets. Anamika in a crucial scene demands her agency, she goes to the male star and shows him his place. The show is definitely better than the trailer promised.
The music by OAFF is beautiful and intriguing. The title theme and Durr are two interesting music pieces.
The Fame Game Review: Star Performance:
Madhuri Dixit Nene has a tough task in her kitty. She has to play herself in front of the camera but with a different name. Of course, the decisions Anamika makes are not the same as Madhuri would. But the mannerism, the million-dollar smile, the body language, everything is the real star. Dixit has to make the audience believe she is Anamika and she manages that pretty well.
My biggest doubt about the show was whether Madhuri will be able to pull off the OTT culture. The dramatics are different in the digital space, and the veteran actor is known for a different school. Sri Rao manages to crack that department cleverly. Maybe blurring the line between real and reel was a step to counter that argument. To see Madhuri play a mother in difficult times is endearing.
Manav Kaul embodies the superstar. The actor keeps aging forward and backward in his films and it is fascinating how uniquely charming he is. There is a very high chance of becoming a caricature but the actor never lets the balance go haywire.
Lakshvir Saran is the subtle note on the show but gives a very good performance. His trajectory though small, stayed with me. His tender romance with his partner and everything around it. Hope it was explored a bit more. Muskkaan Jaferi does justice to her part and is a sudden Surprise by the end. Suhasini Mulay brings her experience to the table and you can see it.
We see the show through Rajshri Deshpande’s perspective. She narrates the tale in a way. The actor plays a gay character how fun it is to see that not defining her personality. It’s a part of her existence and as normal as your and mine and that’s how the show treats it. The actor knows her job and does it with honesty.
The Fame Game Review: What Doesn’t Work:
The problem kicks in when the show indulges with the present time and goes noir. But it’s isn’t noir enough for us to wear our shoes and set out looking for Anamika. Because apart from Rajshri none are really bothered looking for her actually. It’s Fanney Khan minus Anil Kapoor’s over-the-top approach to his character and random cops clapping at a very wrong moment. So what creates the real impact is the past but not the present.
What also falters is the transition between Where is Anamika? To Who is Anamika?. We are introduced to the world and then told that it is not as simple as you think. Of the people are doubled faced including the ones you feel are the victims. But then it isn’t enough to chances the trajectory and get into a different bus. So the change is more confusing than intriguing.
Even the climax doesn’t sit right. It has two parts and both narrated by two pivotal characters while montages play on the screen. After investing 7 hours in a show, a montage climax doesn’t feel like a satisfying endgame. Plus whatever her daughter does is not justified in a convincing manner.
The Fame Game Review: Last Words:
The Fame Game is a mixed bag. There are good things and some bothering ones too. If you are a Madhuri fan go in, if you are not there is no harm in giving this one a chance.
Are you a TVF fan? Read our Gullak Season 3 Review here.