My new Netflix binge: The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives
On a perfect Sunday after Thanksgiving, I lounged in bed watching TV with my mom and ended up binging The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. My mom and I love Bollywood movies, have been to Indian Film festivals in New York together and I love a housewives show, so how perfect of Netflix to suggest we binge together!
The 8 episode reality series produced by Karan Johar follows the lives of former actor Neelam Kothari Soni and Bollywood wives Maheep Kapoor, Bhavana Pandey and Seema Khan. For international Netflix audiences, the biggest wow moment probably came when Shah Rukh Khan made a cameo. Not being in Indian culture, I only see him as a Bollywood leading man. The blogs I follow and ragmags don’t report on him. Seeing him and his wife, Gauri Khan, was extra special. They’re on another level — which Gauri seemed to allude to when she mentioned that she would have loved to do the show if not for her husband being who he is. But back to the ladies that are the stars and the cities we see!
The series is mainly set in Mumbai, which I’ve never been to (I’ve been to Jaipur and Agra). They paint a beautiful picture of the city and seem to live a lifestyle a lot of my Indian friends live there: driving between beautiful places and each other’s home. You see a stark contrast to the street-side cafe seating that the Maheep and her husband enjoy in Paris. You don’t see them enjoying places like this in India. We get a beautifully edited version and don’t see much of the population. Even the famously chaotic streets seem pretty chill under their camera lens, the women stroll through manicured parks. It’s quite nice! The only time our escapism is shaken is when the ladies were doing a volunteer beach cleanup. As they were cleaning a miserably polluted beach front you see people in the waves. Otherwise it’s true fabulousity. Well, kind of.
Seema Khan often brings up Kim Kardashian, unintentionally reminding the audience that we’re not watching Kardashian level glam. We’re a bit like Real Housewives of OC level, definitely not Beverly Hills. The women and their lifestyles are relatable and attainable, even family-friendly. The series start with the Kapoor family heading to Paris for their daughter Shanaya Kapoor’s debut at Le Bal (called the Crillon Ball in my day). I didn’t need Gossip Girl as a reference, I knew girls that debuted there. However, with Shanaya’s date chomping on gum the whole time, this behind the scenes of it was frenetic and a bit disappointing, but nevertheless, the glam bar was set quite high, especially with Shanaya Kapoor’s Paris looks!
The next trip we had — every series need a cast trip — was to Doha where the ladies stayed in a gorgeous suite at the Mondrian and the ladies took us on trip down memory lane of their Bollywood careers. I agree with Neelam, I think she looks better now!
Meehap is clearly the protagonist of the show.
The proxy for Gauri Khan that brings the women together and it’s great to see her and her family. Her husband Sanjay is a riot and I love how much they both cuss. There’s a dinner scene when he has a salt and pepper beard when my mother things he looks like Ray Liotta. The men on the show change their looks a lot.
I wish we had more food. Unlike many housewife series the women actually eat. However, we never see the food! Meehap eats through an argument and I love her for it. The way they walked into Ministry of Crab like they were walking onto a red carpet… the series leans on that slow motion walking scene a lot and Meehap nails it every time! But really Karan. Who brings someone who is allergic to seafood to a place called Ministry of Crab (as a seafood lover, the original location in Sri Lanka is on my list). Bhavana is a good sport saying she’s there to drink and has her epic-pen.
It’s a good easy, pre-Covid days binge. Given the general distaste of excessive materialism and celebrities missing the mark, ahem, Kardashians, maybe these Bollywood wives not being super fabulous will lend to their success?
My mom at the end: “Oh that was all of it?” Proudly realizing she binged!