Anamika Anand (Madhuri Dixit) is a Bollywood star. She has a perfect life. Or does she? Are her loving husband, two lovely children, a well-appointed luxury home, and a high-profile movie starring one of her favorite co-stars less than the sum of her many glamorous bits? The Fame Game, Dixit’s first web series, begins with a glittering awards ceremony at which her character makes a starry entrance. And then she disappears. where did she go And why did she go? Cops prowl, there is too much excitement, conspiracy theories circulate and the mystery deepens.
The eight-part first season of The Fame Game goes back and forth in time as we learn more about the people in Anamika’s life: spouse Nikhil More (Sanjay Kapoor) is a bankrupt producer, mother (Suhasini Mulay) falls out with one Playing stacked deck, son (Lakshvir Saran) has no idea who he is and all daughter Amara wants is to be her mother. “Woh Anamika Anand Banna Chahti Hai”. Superstar Manish Khanna (Manval Kaul) shares a complicated history with Anamika and keeps ducking his demons even as he tries to get back at her. Among the police officers assigned to the case is a woman (Rajshri Deshpande) who deals with personal issues and has no time for film shenanigans.
The problem with this “Who is Anamika?” Where is she? ‘ The game is that it’s neither fresh enough nor interesting enough to stop us. It’s full of tropics. The superficially happy star with a super-ambitious mother, the husband who takes advantage of the golden goose, the troubled kids who don’t quite know what they want: we’ve seen variations on these themes in countless movies.
The temptation to backlight Madhuri Dixit to make her shine like a goddess is irresistible. But she’s such a good actress that all that perfection shouldn’t matter on screen; here it is limited by the banal spelling. That’s the problem with the writing overall, and it affects the entire cast, which includes talent like Mulay, Kapoor, Kaul, Deshpande and a group of newcomers. And the so-called mystery is no such thing: in the way certain characters are introduced that appear randomly but clearly aren’t, we know how they might connect to the missing lady. The plot also develops gaps: a death occurs halfway through and is not dealt with after that. Hello?
A few sharply written scenes tell you how it all could have been. Anamika’s making short work of a cocky younger actress gives us a glimpse of steeliness in all its glory: you can’t be at the top for three decades or more without developing strong instincts of self-preservation. In another scene, Anamika impales a shady financier. How close are these things to real life? These are the alluring, teasing tendrils I wanted more of: Dixit has always been more than the dhak dhak girl, that unfortunate epithet that never left her, and here she shows how to do it.
So yeah, fame isn’t all it’s meant to be and yes, there’s a lot of ugliness to it; The constant pressure to save face in public and in private can drain even the most popular celebrity. It’s only in the final episode that the series looks like it’s about to veer off in a totally unexpected direction. Even the brightest guiding stars have aspects they are reluctant to share. Will Season 2 show us that face behind the face? With Madhuri Dixit, that’s the least we can expect.