Fake Lives of the Boring Wives

There are precisely two kinds of embarrassments you can experience in this day and age. The first category stems from the personal consumption of cringe binge and the second category from the lived experience of the others. If you choose to stay away from the first category, there’s no way you can avoid the second category.

Second-hand embarrassment on behalf of those who have seen cringe and can’t and wouldn't stop talking about the monstrosity is what I live to avoid. This includes the experience of navigating social media to avoid the landmines of spoilers and useless trivia about TV shows you’d rather not care about but are forced to, as a form of second-hand embarrassment. Instead, I would much rather consume the poison myself and feel it first hand, thank you very much.

That’s how I felt about the Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives (2020) and unfortunately, this take covers that second-hand embarrassment for you. I have lived to watch the shit show and now I feel bulimic; I have this incessant need to vomit the shit I consumed and I apologize about the vomit projectile coming your way.

Featuring four Bollywood star wives, the show claims to take you within the life, relationships and the friendships each of them forge with their families and then with one another in Mumbai, the hub of Bombay Cinema. The show stars Maheep Kapoor, Neelam Kothari Soni, Seema Khan, and Bhavana Pandey in lead, and is supported by appearances from their squad including Malaika Arora Khan, Amrita Arora, Karan Johar, Gauri Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor among others. There’s also a delightful Ananya Pandey lite moment which deserves a prominent mention right before I deep dive. Sanjay Kapoor (Anil Kapoor’s brother and now Maheep Kapoor’s husband among other prominent connections) laments how “work” and “not nepotism” helped him score a new gig with Dharma Productions. This happens without a shred of irony during a KJo show. Yes Sanjay, tell us more.

If you are familiar with the popular teenage dramas such as Gossip Girl, Keeping up with the Kardashians (and the spin-offs), SATC, the OC, be rest assured that this is an Indian reality show take on those shows together. There’s nothing new to explore here in format, production, writing, and acting. This garbled television writing attempt is a poor pastiche of the aforementioned list among others; plotlines ranging between a version of Cotillion, almost as if it’s introduced in the show to make the star offsprings relevant; an MEA vacation with Rolls Royce for shopping, reminiscent of Maybach, one each for Carrie and the girls; a beach clean-up almost as a forced PSA to remind us to give “two shits” about the environment.

That last instance allegedly becomes the highlight as one of the four ladies show up in boots to save the beach. This, in a show, where nobody chooses to acknowledge the time when Shanaya Kapoor appears in a sweater dress and knee-high boots in tropical Mumbai, within the first 10 minutes of the pilot. Of course, it’s an issue if they wear boots to the beach. Fashion faux pas, I suppose.

To be fair, there is all evidence pointing towards the level of cringe that this show was going to be, right from the first ten seconds of the trailer. The embellished skull on top of coffee-table books as art-deco really set the stage for vanity and it only goes up from there, with the climax leading to a part at-no points for guessing-Gauri Khan Designs.

“Gauri is the OG of Bollywood wives!” claims one of the four women, or “twats” or “stupid cow”, depending on the intensity of the binge you have been on.
Watching the show made me miss my time at the convent school, where saying, “you’re cheap, ridiculous, and very very disgusting”, stood as the highlight of my life at age 10. I haven’t used that in close to two decades. That's how out of touch the lead women/writers of the show were.

However, that’s the striking thing that the show screams. Look at us as we share our lives (only the parts we want to highlight) and look at us scream profanities to look cool. Seema Khan describes her marriage as “unconventional” while sparing the audience the details about their living arrangement (kids shuttle between daddy’s house and mamma’s house). It’s fair to withhold information and limit what you’d like to share. However, to repeatedly tell us how you wouldn’t find a better protagonist to represent than these star wives in India is nothing short of a travesty, especially when the tabloids are abuzz that their marriage has been over for years.

I don’t want to be that bitch, but I will be, just to point that, bro, maybe The struggling-wives’ mediocre life might be a better title here cause neither of the four husbands, the male stars so to say, have done anything memorable. There’s that fine line between wanting to scratch the surface of the subject and exposing the wound for the maggots to crawl out, and that the makers don’t quite address the vulnerable situation here. The show is neither funny nor honest, and either of the two would have redeemed it for all its problems.

Instead, we are force-fed hydrogenated fat, in the form of shits and giggles including a plotline about a (planted) stranger following Neelam through their vacation. The women swing between not giving enough fucks about each other’s allergy over meals but being terrified over what Karan Johar thinks about their outfit. In a way, their friendship is solidified with Karan Johar’s presence, almost as a reminder in every episode that he means the world to them and his opinion is like the word of God.

Poor Kangana would be triggered and how.

Imagine your life being so hollow and vain that you need to assert your friendship with Karan Johar to highlight that trolling does not affect you. If you think I am making this up, please know that this was an actual conversation from the show featuring these four women.

Not to take away from the fact that the show is immensely bingeable, insofar as, if you’re working from home, and you have had a track record of watching SATC films on repeat, you’ll stream this cringe-fest and live to tell the tale, like yours truly.

If Nolan is to Sanima dudebros, then KJo is to aspirational SJWs. You want to watch it to know just how hollow it is, and the Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives does that. At no point does it position itself to be a show that is original (referencing to the KarJenners in the middle, as a homage is entirely well done) or even interesting (KJo discusses with the lead stars and Gauri over two different episodes on why should this show be made/watched in the way it’s done).

It’s as though the makers are painfully self-aware that even those who choose to walk into it willingly to watch will be doubting themselves.

Much like the show, this hot take is just as badly put together because if I put in any more effort here, it would be a disservice to the fabulous lives of the twats, and I can’t do that to them. If I go into detail then I’ll be visited by Arjun Kapoor in my dreams, conveying to me that I don’t matter and that the fabulous celebrity public appearance commands attention and that trolling comes along as an after-effect.

Way to gaslight and explain your existence, bro.

Like this post?

Show your love for Anisha Saigal’s work.
Your support matters!

Anisha Saigal

7 Supporters
Pop-culture omnivore. Survived publishing, academia, film school. Struggling with the pandemic.