Every thrives on an equivalent components. We comply with a bunch of impeccably attired girls as they go about managing their households and social lives. There isn’t a lot plot, however there are copious tears and charged moments as rivalries flare and disparaging feedback are made concerning the high quality of wigs or beauty dermatology. And typically, in between, one thing deeper is captured concerning the singular universes these girls inhabit — the distinction in social mores of rich wives in Atlanta and Miami, or the distinctive customs of these in New Jersey. A very good rich-wife actuality present is equal elements tawdry dramatic rigidity and anthropology.
“Bollywood Wives,” sadly, lacks each the sly self-awareness of the “Actual Housewives” franchise and the dramatic ruthlessness. Of the 4 Wives, three are married to former Hindi movie stars, and one is a former star herself, however all of those figures’ heydays have handed. It’s their youngsters who are actually being groomed for movie careers, and the Wives need you to know that their priorities are with their households — even when good mothering, on this universe, includes making your husband be taught the waltz in order that he can escort your daughter to her “coming out” at a Parisian debutante ball. The Wives maintain imprecise jobs designing jewellery or clothes, however these professions are inclined to languish within the background of an countless collection of lunches. For probably the most half, we watch them carry out some gentle cosplay of the second “Intercourse and the Metropolis” film: taking a whirlwind ladies’ journey to Doha and lounging poolside in diaphanous caftans, or sporting Gucci to do volunteer work cleansing trash from a seashore. The plot contrivances are laborious and low-stakes (in a single the Wives fake, unconvincingly, to have reservations about beauty work), and the themes too pious, too certain of their very own persecution and, frankly, too boring — even for me, an avowed librarian of Nineteen Nineties Hindi-film arcana.
However within the present’s unguarded moments — when its slick pandering to the Netflix viewers falls away, and the Wives slip into the wounded belligerence that comes so simply to the rich — it unintentionally provides unparalleled documentary perception into the nepotistic depths of the Hindi movie business. It could be asking us to care about one Spouse dealing with public scoffing at her daughter’s Paris debut, however the true gag is her teenage son’s confidence that he, too, will turn into an actor in Hindi movies, regardless of having a questionable grasp of the language and talking with a placeless, affected accent. (Like several proud Indian mom of a mediocre Indian son, she beams as she brags about how cute he’s — and like anybody who follows the business, she certainly is aware of the household title will take him far.) We watch one of many husbands shyly divulge to his Spouse that, after years as a middling character actor, he has lastly landed a key function with a notoriously unique director’s firm. The surprising sweetness of the second lasts for about three seconds; in his subsequent breath, he laments the general public’s unfair complaints about business nepotism, which can’t exist as a result of, in his case, “It took me 25 years.”
However probably the most telling unintended revelations occur because the Wives frenetically put together for a celebration hosted by the spouse of one in all India’s biggest stars, Shah Rukh Khan. His partner, Gauri Khan, isn’t only a Spouse; she presides over her personal galaxy, orbited by the lesser Wives, who nervously titter and collect round her, basking in mirrored glory. Too well mannered to smirk at their sequined outfits however not well mannered sufficient to allow them to cross unmentioned, Khan dryly chuckles about feeling underdressed. With a placid smile, she sweetly says that if solely she had been “only a designer,” she’d possibly, simply possibly, have thought of taking part in a present like this. When requested concerning the 4 official Wives, she notes that she was an enormous fan of 1 “within the ’80s” and, after a deadly strategic pause, describes one other as “humorous.”