Madhuri Dixit, one of the brightest and most enduring Bollywood stars, is basking in the success of her streaming acting debut, Netflix’s “The Fame Game.”
The series bowed Feb. 25 and is among the top 10 Netflix shows in Mauritius, Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka and the U.A.E.
In the series created by Sri Rao, and directed by Bejoy Nambiar and Karishma Kohli, Dixit plays top Bollywood star Anamika Anand, who at the height of her fame, disappears without a trace. The officer in charge of the investigation (Rajshri Deshpande) attempts to peel back the layers of the star’s seemingly perfect life by talking to her troubled producer husband (Sanjay Kapoor), domineering mother (Suhasini Mulay), conflicted children (Muskkaan Jaferi, Lakshvir Saran), a loyal housekeeper (Shubhangi Latkar), makeup artist (Kashyap Shangari) and frequent co-star (Manav Kaul). Also in the mix is an obsessive fan (Gagan Arora).
“People have imagined her to be the ideal, perfect person with the perfect life – why should she disappear? And then how all the secrets come out, I thought that was very fascinating,” Dixit told Variety. “A lot of things that she’s going through are so real in life.”
The series takes a clear-eyed and closely-observed look at the road to fame and the price of it, the effect it has on the people behind and around a superstar and the financing of Bollywood. It blurs the lines between Dixit and Anand, blending as it does clips, photographs and hit songs from the actor’s real-life hit films along with film sequences shot specially for the show. It also features several well-known Bollywood venues. Some of the characters are clearly based on household names.
Dixit describes the world of “The Fame Game” as a “metaverse” that combines real and reel. “To establish her as a big star, I think they took a little bit from my life where people should know, ‘Oh, she’s a big star like Madhuri Dixit’ – she’s that stature and at that height of her career,” says Dixit. “I think the only similarity between Anamika Anand and (then) me is that we both are stars, we both are daughters, we are a wife, we are a mother, we are those roles that we play in our lives. But I think apart from that, I think our lives are very, very different.”
For example, Dixit says that unlike Anand, whose mother forced her into the acting profession, her own mother was very supportive and protective.
Dixit debuted with “Abodh” (1984) and has enjoyed a career strewn with massive Bollywood hits including “Tezaab” (1988), “Ram Lakhan” (1989), “Dil” (1990), “Saajan” (1991), “Beta” (1992), “Khalnayak” (1993), “Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!” (1994), “Raja” (1995), “Dil to Pagal Hai” (1997) and “Devdas” (2002). At the height of her fame she got married, relocated to the U.S. and started a family. She returned to India a few years later to take up selected roles.
“The Fame Game” is produced by Indian media personality Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment for Netflix. “The love we have received for ‘The Fame Game’ is overwhelming,” Johar said. “It is such a special project for me personally and for Dharmatic. Madhuri is a delight to watch, and I am so happy to see all the praise the younger talent, Lakshvir, Muskkaan and Gagan are getting. ‘The Fame Game’ has been a thrilling ride which people from across the world are now enjoying and we’re hoping we continue to make content they love.”
Dixit had an existing relationship with Netflix as she sold Marathi-language film “15 August,” produced by her, to the streamer. She also dubbed the Hindi-language version of “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.”
“We are thrilled to see the immense love for our drama series, ‘The Fame Game,’ trending at #1 in India and in the Top 10 in several countries across the world,” said Monika Shergill, VP, content, Netflix India. “The series brilliantly captures how the facade of stardom crumbles and family secrets and wounds from the past come tumbling out to expose the truth behind fame.”
“The Fame Game” ends on a cliffhanger and a second season is on the cards. “It’s up to Netflix and, right now, everybody’s exhausted because it just released and we are just taking in all the reactions and basking in that. Once this is done, I think they will start working and thinking about the next season,” said Dixit.
Next up for Dixit as a producer is Marathi-language “Panchak,” a film about superstition that is ready for release. As an actor, Dixit has just completed an as-yet-untitled film directed by Anand Tiwari for Amazon Prime Video, which is due this year.