The Fame Game Review: Interesting Character Drama, Less-Exciting Thriller
Netflix’s The Fame Game begins with the legendary superstar Anamika Anand (Madhuri Dixit) gone missing under suspicious and incoherent circumstances. When the police investigation begins, slowly the congruent events and truths about the remarkable actress and her close-knit family starts to unfold.
This show depicts glamour well but goes beyond scratching the surface. It starts off with a rocky first episode, setting my expectations extremely low for the show. There is a lack of synchronisation in the flow of scenes, making it feel messy and under-prepared. The background music is excessive. However, once past this initial hiccup, The Fame Game grows gingerly, earning my interest, fascination, and adoration.
Imagine being stuck in a glass maze where you don't know where to go. You want to reach the middle to find your treasure but you are left clueless. All of it is pretense and superficial. It is the superfluity that makes you feel displaced. This is the best metaphor to describe the world of The Fame Game. In this realm, everything is a sham until you decide to claw your way to the deeper levels of misery that engulfs the life of Anamika Anand.
To add to it, the whole house, which is the primary setting, is filled with photos and paintings of Anamika Anand as if to add to the enigma. She is everywhere, meeting your eyes but nowhere to be seen.
May I add that the representation of poster hand painting culture was absolutely refreshing? The introductory thematic visuals for the show encapsulates the process of painting a portrait of Anamika Anand and it is extremely eye-pleasing.
From trying to figure out where is Anamika Anand, the investigating forces are forced to find the answer to the muddled question: Who is Anamika Anand? She describes herself as a mother, wife, daughter, and actress; which is partially true but beyond these societal roles, her true identity is hidden or rather forgotten.
It was intelligent to name the character Anamika, which means anonymous. It is ironic that a public figure is named after anonymity but the relevance of the name gets gradually discovered, as one seeps into her world.
The writing of The Fame Game is refreshing and heavily nuanced. There is always an underlying subtle sub-context that left me in awe of such refined and thoughtful scripting. The dialogues are measured yet effortless and have the ability to incite genuine emotions.
The writers sensibly integrated conversations around various social issues, which is highly appreciable. Catering to a range of topics like sensationalism in media, mental health, enigmatic nature of celebrities, marital tensions, obsessive fan behavior, the invisibility of family members, heavy sexism, wrong perception of fame; the writers were mindful and highly perspicacious.
The Fame Game is definitely slow-paced. Writers Shreya Bhattacharya, Akshat Ghildial, Sri Rao, Amita Vyas, and Nisha Mehta give into sedate indulgence, enabling us to enter Anamika's world. It did work for me because I enjoyed the attention to details but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Not all would partake in the mystic romanticism and poetic portrayal of Anamika's abscond.
Some of the characters have got really great backstories. They are well arched and that provides a touch of commonality and relatability to this distant world of the film business. Anamika's son, Avinash, has to easily be the best-written character, apart from Anamika herself.
Other than writing, what holds The Fame Game together and keeps the audience engaged is the spectacular performance by Madhuri Dixit Nene. She is an impactful and grounded performer, providing a very realistic touch to the larger-than-life character. There is sincerity in her craft.
Her eyes carry a commanding as well as a magical essence. You can feel the pain, the emotional turmoil, and the anguish as Madhuri pulls you deeper into Anamika’s soul through her eyes. Moreover, Madhuri’s subtle facial changes, exposing the underlying anxieties, feel equally compelling. Despite having a gentle voice, she was able to modulate it well to suit the tone of the scene which conveyed both comforts and worry effectively.
Lakshwir Sharan presents an extremely commendable performance as Anamika’s son. His work can easily be considered the second-best portrayal in Fame Game, after Anamika herself. Manav Kaul and Sanjeev Kapoor were well casted. While I felt a strong urge to see more of Manav Kaul's versatility, Sanjeev Kapoor felt typecast. Nonetheless, the actors did a good job with the limited means provided to them.
The veteran Suhashini Muley plays the role of Anamika's mother. It was a flat-line character, barely making an impact. As a result, it felt understated for an actress of that caliber. It's unfortunate that the writers focused on layering and dwelling deeper into character psychology for only a limited set of characters.
Speaking of the mystery-thriller genre that this show promises to be, it doesn't do complete justice to it. In retrospect, the answer to the mystery lies in the trailer but no spoilers, shush. The gone girl Anamika Anand's story provides nuanced dramatics rather than exhilarating suspense.
The Fame Game is refreshing and unique in nature and definitely deserves a chance despite it's a subjective choice of grandeur-driven, gradual and mystifying portrayal.
The Fame Game is now streaming on Netflix.
Watch the Fame Game trailer here.
Author Biographical Note: Vanshika Lakhani is pursuing her degree in Mass Communications and Journalism from Jai Hind College. She is also an alumnus of St. Xavier’s College from where she studied Arts. She reviews films, web-shows, books, and music. Her reviews have also been published on other portals like Film Companion and Café Dissensus Everyday. She is a huge content enthusiast and enjoys talking to people who tell her about new content to consume. Now she is associated with Explore Screen: The Cognitive Dialogue as an intern.
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