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The Fame Game Will Leave  You Gasping For Breath



The Fame Game

The Fame Game(Netflix, 8 Episodes)

Starring Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Kapoor, Manav Kaul, Rajshri  Deshpande

Directed  by Bejoy Nambiar

Rating: *** ½

 Rarely do all the components of  a webseries, creative  and otherwise, come together as  fluently   as they  do in The Fame  Game, earlier  title more appropriately as Finding Anamika. This  IS  a  series  about searching for the   superstar  Anamika Anand played by  superstar Madhuri Dixit, the last   of the  iconic Bollywood actresses who emerges from her cocoon  of self-exile with a  performance  suffused with  subtle  flourishes which tell  us why  she is Madhuri Dixit.

 Call her  by any  another  name, Anamika Anand will do. She  is  still that  consummate  superstar with that enigmatic smile which tells us everything and gives away nothing.

The other star of this  intriguing often enchanting thriller is Sri Rao’s writing. Across the  8 episodes Rao leaves not a  single loose end for us to  mourn  and carp over . Nothing happens  here without reason. Least  of  all, Anamika’s disappearance at the  beginning of the show.

   As the  skeletons from the  cupboards of all those who  are ostensibly close to her come tumbling out in no  hurry  and  in undulating waves of tempered  revelation, the full picture of  the consummate  superstar’s persona comes together…or does it come  undone at the end?  We really can’t be sure. Because finally what we are left with is more questions  than answers. We really don’t know Anamika Anand any better  at the end than we  did at the beginning.

Is that the show’s fatal failing  or  biggest triumph? Is that Madhuri Dixit or Anamika Anand? Iconic songs  like  Channe ke khet mein and Maar dala are referenced  to create a  deliberate  confusion  between the  superstar  we see  on screen and the one playing her.

This is  a very strong role for a female hero.Madhuri  Dixit does  full justice to it. She  merges the  public diva in the private persona of  the unhappy  wife(married to a jerk played  with conviction by Sanjay Kapoor) , and concerned mother  of two growing children who have their own very difficult issues as  celebrity  kids.

Muskkan  Jafery and Lakshvir Saran are excellent as  Madhuri/Anamika’s troubled children Avi and Amyra. While one is wrestling with his sexuality the other is  trying to prove she is more than star kid.

The  are actually two strongly-etched  female  heroes in The Fame Game.While Madhuri’s Anamika Anand goes missing  the compelling Rajshri Deshpande steps in as  Shobha  Trivedi  the investigative  office. I wish  the writing had not gone  into the cop’s personal  life .The subplot  of  Shobha’s  love life is  reminiscent  of  ACP Khan’s closeted  crisis in  Ram Madhvani’s Aarya.

Writer Siri Rao understand the pain behind the  sham of  the entertainment  business. He never judges his characters, no matter how deeply and fatally flawed  they might be. Even Madhav(played with chilling  deep-focus by Gagan Arora) , Anamika’s fanatical fan  who  claims she is his long-lost Aaai(mom), or Anamika’s self-serving  brash mother(Suhasini Mulay with a gorgeous collection of sarees)  , or Billy (Kashyap  Shingari) her faithful but slippery   hairdresser who finally turns   out  to be not so  trustworthy  after all, and  Manish Khanna(Manav Kaul), her  favourite costar and  long-standing love interest, are never  scrutinized  for their  spineless  action.

Things sometimes get really ugly  in  The Fame Game. At a  press conference  ‘superstar’Manish Khanna slaps  a reporter and  all  hell breaks loose. If this incident  reminds  you of a certain actress’s run-in with the  press, then hang on. This is  not the  series about film folk that cannibalizes  Page  3 gossip to titillate . Its motives in  digging out the grime behind the  glam  are far less salacious . It  digs deep  into the  dirt  drawing  out  dark secrets that are not the least seductive. Just  tragic and  saddening.

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