The Fame Game on Netflix Episode 1 and 2: Characters Introduced, Setting Established

Oh goodie! Let’s all watch together and discuss in episode pairs! It’s legitimately good too. Not Made in Heaven good, but closer to it than most other things. Plus, tons of in jokes for industry obsessed folks like on DCIB.

Episode 1:

We establish the basic characters, and the structure. In the present, famous star “Anamika” (Madhuri basically playing herself) is suddenly not in her room at home. No one knows where she is, and ultimately her husband calls in the police. In the past 6 months, we see the current private stresses and strains without knowing which of them may have lead to this disappearance. Or was it all of them?

Characters:

Anamika Anand: Madhuri Dixit, playing herself. Middle aged and married and still the most popular actress in India.

Sanjay Kapoor: Playing Madhuri’s producer husband, crawled his way up from middle-class to marry the top actress, and now is obsessed with making her next movie a hit.

Manav Kaul: Playing Shahrukh Khan/Sanjay Dutt/Whoever. Top male star who was first launched opposite Madhuri, they clearly had a torrid affair back then but he was already married with a daughter. Now he is divorced and she is married to Sanjay Kapoor and hasn’t talked to him for 20 years until they go to ask him to co-star in her new movie to save the film.

Kashyap Singari: Madhuri’s devoted best friend/make-up artist

Suhasini Mulay: Madhuri’s demanding mother

Lakshvir Saran: Avinash, Madhuri’s troubled post-suicidal son

Muskkaan Jaferi: Amara, Madhuri’s shy smart daughter

Rajshri Deshpande: ACP investigating the disappearance

The first episode just establishes that Madhuri is torn in all directions and doesn’t have anyone to fully support her. Avi’s suicide attempt is a family secret, her affair with Manav is a marriage secret (I think Sanjay Kapoor knows it happened in the past based on how shook he is after their meeting), the stress over whether she can actually keep this movie afloat is a professional secret, a lot is happening.

What it does most well is treat everyone as humans. They are in a crazy world of fame, but they are ultimately trying to do the right things. Sanjay is the most “bad” person so far, and his actions are all focused on making his movie a hit which isn’t exactly evil. The two kids and Madhuri’s relationship with them is the most interesting part. It is clear that she is the center of their world and vice versa. And that is not innately a conflict with her job, that is, she still has plenty of time to be with them and pay attention to them, fame and stardom doesn’t make her a bad Mom at all. And doesn’t make them bad kids, they are both troubled clearly, but troubled in what seem to be ways unrelated to fame. Avi is depressed and a teenager, but Madhuri is starting to pull him out of his shell. Amara feels shy and unattractive, but Madhuri is trying to give her direction in life to bring her out of her shell.

Oh, and there’s one little hint, when we see a young male fan pretending to be crippled so he can meet her, which seems possibly like a red flag.

Can’t not think about this when I see Madhuri and Sanjay onscreen

Episode 2

Two timelines keep moving. Sanjay comes off poorly. First, we get a flashback showing him twisting Madhuri’s arm in the middle of a fight in a way that makes it seem routine. Second, we see him meeting with a backer in the present day who is pretty clearly a gangster putting black money into the film. Third, we learn it is possible that Sanjay is embezzling from the budget, listing Manav Kaul as being paid when actually he was free. In other news, sweet little Amara continues to feel weak and ugly and is ripe to be befriended by Nutty Fan at a candlelight vigil. In the past, Madhuri is starting to get suspicious of Nutty Fan as she sees him in more and more places. In the present, Manav Kaul is interviewed by the police who flat out tell him that they know he was having an affair with Madhuri.

My favorite part of this, Madhuri starts an affair and we, the audience, are right there with her. She does it in a classy way, in an emotional elegant way, and we have already seen her as a warm wise loving mother, an absolute professional at work, and an ignored wife. We trust that she is having this affair because she wants it and she is clear eyed about how it will, and will not, affect her life. For instance, her kids won’t care one bit.

Second favorite part, the kids get interesting! Avi places a listening device in his Dad’s office, Amara gets active reaching out to fans. And they continue to talk to each other about how they can’t tell the police their family secrets, but they can’t trust anyone else either, so it’s up to them to investigate and figure out what really happened. Oh, FYI, suicide attempts are illegal in India so if they tell the police about Avi, he could go to jail and it could get really messy.

Overall, so far, my favorite part about this series is how remarkably well it is using Madhuri!!!!! The thing about Madhuri is, she can’t play “normal”. She will always be magic. So having her be herself, a gorgeous magical movie star, who is also a loving mother and a woman with a real heart and stuff, that’s perfect. After her last few roles I was almost worried she had forgotten how to act, but no, the problem wasn’t with Madhuri, it was with The World. In this role, watching her nurture her son and daughter, be slightly stiff with her husband, and then delicately flirtatious with Manav, it’s just amazing.

Okay, now y’all watch the first two episodes and then come back and talk to me about it!

I’ll keep posting mini little things two episodes as I finish them!

22 thoughts on “The Fame Game on Netflix Episode 1 and 2: Characters Introduced, Setting Established

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  3. Yay! You are watching it!

    I seriously love how this series uses Madhuri, the same things as you pointed out. I’m a little irritated though that there are no subtitles for the songs. I loved the small bit with Kalank, which is meta in SO MANY WAYS.

    Apparently, the choreographer for Madhuri’s numbers in this film is the same one who did Aaja Nachle. So perfect!

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    • I adore how they use Madhuri the actress (so many great perfect scenes for her), and how they use Madhuri the icon, with all the nods to her power/lack of power, and her complicated love life, and all of that.

      On Sat, Feb 26, 2022 at 7:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Yay! I seem to be watching at the same pace as you!

    First, I’m so glad that they cast Manav Kaul as the sexy heartthrob who is Madhuri’s contemporary! I’ve had a crush on him for some time so this is great! Sadly, I have to keep remembering that this takes place in an alternate reality where an aging female star is still so famous, beloved and working regularly. I want it to be true, of course, but I don’t think even real Madhuri holds that status. Anyway, Madhuri’s only real friend seems to be her makeup artist, and to some extent her housekeeper, who is more maternal than her own mother. The kids love her too, but they are holding onto some secret. I may be jaded, but the daughter seems too naive for a starkid! Her real world counterparts appear glamorous from such a young age. Or maybe the shy ones are living quietly without getting photographed.

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  5. I didn’t plan watching it because I couldn’t stand Madhuri in her last movies. Just like you said, it looked like she forgot how to act. I’m happy this series works better for her.
    While reading this post I was thinking that more about Madhuri, this show seems to be based on Sridevi’s life.

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    • Yes! It’s definitely a combination of all kinds of aging superstar actresses. Sridevi, Madhuri, Kajol, Rani, all of the women who have to balance being the “fantasy dream girl” with being real people. :Little bits of things like an arranged marriage to cover an affair, struggling with how to handle star kids, pushy aggressive mother, all of that. In particular the way the public shifted from being dismissive of Sridevi’s kids to suddenly loving them when she died is resonating for me.

      Anyway, you should watch it! If you liked Made in Heaven, it feels very similar to that, lots of complicated characters and plot.

      On Sun, Feb 27, 2022 at 3:29 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. SO happy you are doing this. Have to confess I binge watched it and right from the beginning, there was something off about the way Madhuri played Anamika. I didn’t warm to her,and couldn’t understand why she, Anamika not Madhuri, was so beloved when inside, cleverly masked, there was a kind of rote coldness.

    I haven’t moved on to your discussion of episodes 3 and 4 yet, but for me, this duality in Anamika’s character intensifies as the drama moves on. As portrayed by Madhuri, Anamika is brilliantly perfect in everything she does. Family, friends, fans adore her. Yet I didn’t, and I knew there had to be a reason. To portray a complex character like Anamika takes great skill. Madhuri certainly has it.

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    • I am so glad Madhuri was cast in this role. Her last few performances have been so striving, so fake feeling. And then I just watched Rajkumar, and she was so effortless. This role feels effortless too, she just needed someone who knew how to use her.

      On Sun, Feb 27, 2022 at 7:24 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I wasn’t that interested based on the trailers, especially since I was never really a fan of Madhuri. But I started watching last night and it’s really good!

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  8. Yay, I’m on vacation and can watch this! I’m two episodes in and loving it so far. I can’t wait to watch again tonight and see if her son gets torn apart by hijras.

    I totally missed that the guy he was meeting was a gangster! Even when Sanjay asks him if he knows anything!

    Anyway, a mystery in which Madhuri dances every episode is a show pretty much made for me, and I also appreciate the Manav Kaul aspect.

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    • Yaaaaay! Can’t wait for you to finish so you can give your opinions on the ending!

      On Mon, Feb 28, 2022 at 10:17 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. I’m not sure I’m even all the way through the second episode but I have to share that her relationship with the SRK platform outside his house star has echos of Rekha & Amitabh – the whole avoiding eachother at award ceremonies and the women not really wishing eachother well.

    I never would have figured out the husband was meeting with a gangster until you told me.

    And if I have to guess right now I’ll say the daughter did it to further her career.

    So it is illegal to attempt suicide in India, but they can also arrest people whom they think are responosible for another’s suicide? Aye aye aye – the Indian legal system is worse than my own!

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    • Yes! And the “everyone wants to see you together again onscreen” part of it.

      On Wed, Mar 2, 2022 at 6:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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