The life of a star has been a matter of intrigue and a genre of filmmaking for decades. The curiosity around it, over the years, has drawn several storytellers to delve into their own industry. Netflix’s The Fame Game starring Madhuri Dixit is yet another attempt, but one which shines bright with brilliant acting performances, powerful frames, impressive soundtrack and music that doesn’t stay just in the background.
Madhuri Dixit effortlessly plays Anamika Anand, a veteran Bollywood star whose life and layers unfold as the eight-episode series plays out. The Fame Game puts the spotlight on the glamour and struggles of Anamika Anand’s life, navigating through the many roles that she plays off screen. It begins with the disappearance of Anamika Anand shortly after returning from an award function, then goes into a flashback to trace her roots, life and people, who comprise her world. Her family, including her husband Nikhil More (Sanjay Kapoor), son, daughter and mother, is questioned by ACP Shobha Trivedi (Rajshri Deshpande). To trace her, ACP Trivedi attempts to solve the jigsaw that Anamika Anand’s life has become — her struggles to keep the family together despite an abusive marriage, conflict with her mother who knows nothing but to dictate, and her personal and professional relationship with co-star Manish Khanna (played by Manav Kaul).
Each episode cuts through present and past timelines, as Ambika Anand tries to rescue herself, her son Avinash (Lakshvir Singh Saran) and her daughter Amara (Muskkan Jaferi).
Many in the past have attempted to show the dark side of glamour and glitz, but few have been able to capture the overtones. The Fame Game falls back to stereotyping, in order to show the black and white. Troubled marriage, abusive husband, dictatorial mother, gay son, lover who struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder and an actress who wants to be the saviour — a prescription that has been served in different permutations and combinations in the past as well. This, however, is overshadowed by strong dialogues that leave a mark.
When Anamika Anand tells her daughter who wants to follow in her footsteps, ‘Fame is not glamour, fame is dangerous’, one can’t ignore the bitter truth behind her scepticism. While it captures the essence, The Fame Game retorts to uni-dimensional characters, apart from that of Anamika Anand.
Sanjay Kapoor and Madhur Dixit reunite on screen after years.
The slow pace of the show is covered by Madhuri Dixit’s flawless acting, she effortlessly transitions from playing an ambitious diva to a protective mother. Sanjay Kapoor, tries to bring in a matrix of emotions, but with little success.
While the plot moves swiftly and the suspense keeps you on the edge, till the second last episode, The Fame Game also beautifully weaves the conflicts surrounding homosexuality, bipolar disorder, addiction, abuse and identity.
Anamika Anand helps her son cope with his identity and dilemma as she too struggles to find her happiness. And as her daughter rages a battle with herself over the idea of ‘beauty’, Anamika gets a flashback of her own journey.
Homosexuality, myths, battles around it have been sprinkled across multiple characters. And while bipolar disorder and addiction get nothing but a couple mentions, Manav Paul does an apt portrayal.
There can never be enough said about what goes on ‘behind the curtain’, but this fictional Netflix series makes a commendable effort to give a glimpse, not just into the life of a star, but also into that of a woman, lover, mother, wife and daughter. As a young Anamika Anand runs in an attempt to escape, one can’t help but notice the vague similarity with the final sequence of Francois Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’.