Netflix’s “The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives” is the latest attempt made by the Indian movie industry to encourage viewers to accept their nepotistic casting practices. Produced by Bollywood’s leading producer, Karan Johar, “The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives” follows four longtime friends who are all married to famous actors. Their daily lives include raising their kids, going on luxurious vacations together and building their brands. This friend group has lasted for 25 years and is very exclusive, with only a handful of others included in their daily outings. They are well known for always having the inside scoop on gossip as well as their infinite family connections in the film industry.
The lives of these four women make for an entertaining show to binge-watch. It offers viewers a glimpse into the lives of famous actors and actresses and how they constantly try to rebrand themselves to fit with the changing times. Although there are a few moments when the cast seems unrelatable, the interesting plot line coupled with a few celebrity guest stars make this reality show a must-watch.
Meet The Four Women Who Star In This Reality Show
Neelam Soni is a former actress who left the industry in 2001 for marriage and motherhood. She was a beloved actress who starred in many popular films alongside other notable actors. She is known to be the most level-headed of the group and you will rarely catch her cursing, unlike the rest of the women. She has since started her own jewelry business, Neelam Jewels, and adopted a daughter with her husband in 2013. Although she left acting 20 years ago, Neelam is constantly thinking about making a comeback.
Another member of this exclusive friend group is Maheep Kapoor, the wife of actor and producer Sanjay Kapoor. She is known for her outgoing personality and quick-witted one-liners. Kapoor traveled from country to country during her childhood before moving to Mumbai to enter Bollywood. Although she originally wanted to become an actress, she put her dreams aside for her husband and family. She has a son, Jahaan, and a daughter, Shanaya, who is currently waiting to enter the movie industry just like the rest of her family.
Bhavna Pandey is married to former actor Chunky Pandey and mother to Anaya Pandey, an up-and-coming actress in Bollywood. Her daughter’s career launched in 2019 after starring in a huge commercial movie produced by Karan Johar and has since starred in three other movies. Bhavna’s main concern during the show is making sure Ananya’s career is off to a good start.
The last member of this close-knit clan is Seema Khan, wife to actor Sohail Khan. Seema isn’t from the acting industry but has an eponymous fashion label. She is also a mother to two boys, one of whom just started college. Throughout the show, Seema struggles with letting go of her elder son and is very much a helicopter parent.
These Four Friends Lead Anything But A Normal Life
Being a part of the largest movie industry in the world definitely has its perks. In the very first episode, Maheep takes Shanaya to Paris to attend le Bal, a very prestigious debutante ball that invites only around 20 girls from around the world. The debutantes usually come from well-known families involved in the arts, politics or business. The family spends the day as tourists in Paris before Shanaya makes her debut and dances the night away with her parents and escort.
Another unique experience that is depicted on the show is the trip the four ladies take to Doha. What started as just a quiet getaway with friends soon turns into a vacation full of exotic surprises. The ladies book a luxurious penthouse with incredible views of the city. They enjoy the vibrant nightlife and even try an extreme sport that is similar to skydiving. One of the highlights of the trip is a personalized shopping experience where the four ladies shop for expensive jewelry and clothing.
The show ends with a huge industry party hosted by the Bollywood power couple Sharukh and Gauri Khan. Actors and actresses gather at this intimate party to enjoy a night of food and friends. The four ladies bring their families along with them and reminisce about how far they have come and all the memories they made in the past 25 years.
The Show Failed to Connect With Its Audience
Although “The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives” appears to be a simple reality show, the viewer can sense an ulterior motive while watching. Bollywood has long been criticized for nepotism since the industry usually tends to hire the children and relatives of well-known actors and rarely gives chances to newcomers. There are many instances when nepotism is brought up in the show, but the cast often misinterprets the public’s criticism.
At le Bal, Sanjay briefly mentions that Shanaya wants to sign onto a movie within the next few years to officially launch her acting career. When confronted about how much easier it is for industry children to become actors, Maheep even says, “Should Shanaya not take advantage of this privilege? Should she sit at home?” It is very obvious that members of this industry are completely oblivious to the amount of privilege they possess and how unfair and damaging the industry’s casting practices are.
The public’s main concern with nepotism in Bollywood is that in most cases actors from outside of the industry do not get an equal opportunity to star in movies even when they are probably more qualified. Big commercial movies are more likely to be given to actors who already come from an established Bollywood family. If you happen to be an actor from outside the industry, then your work is held to a much higher standard than your industry colleagues.
What becomes strikingly clear throughout the season is that the show is intended to warm audiences to actors such as Shanaya Kapoor and Ananya Pandey, and make their families seem as normal as possible, which is far from the truth. Karan Johar, the producer, is known for launching new actors to stardom and has a sweet spot for the kids of the movie industry. The show tries to introduce the public to the next round of industry kids who plan on making it big and portray them as normal human beings, which bears little relation to reality.
If nepotism isn’t accepted in other fields, why should society accept it in art? If the same privileged families can have generations working in the movie industry what will happen to the quality of work? If Bollywood wants to continue to captivate its audience, then they must make sure that the actors, in some way, are representative of the public and the stories they are telling.