The Fame Game: When Will The Indian Media Stop Messing Up Stories Of Ambitious Women?

It seemed as if the writers of The Fame Game deliberately condemned and punished protagonist Anamika just because she wanted to act in her self-interest

I remember reading the last two chapters of The God Of Small Things (1997) and feeling completely lost about why so much suspense was created, and why the writer had chosen an uncommon narrative style if the story had to end in such a predictable and uncomplicated manner. While I enjoyed reading the book, I was left feeling a bit dissatisfied by the ultimate revelation – the reason behind all the complications in the plot.

I had the exact same unsettling feeling after I finished watching Netflix’s recent release, The Fame Game (2022). Basically, the entire series seemed to be gripping and impactful, but somehow, the ending ruined it all for me.

Here are my (very personal) thoughts on why the series had a terrible ending.

*Spoilers Alert

Are we still living in a world where women are punished for their ambition?

For the first seven episodes of the series, the viewers are made to empathise with the protagonist of the series, Anamika Anand (played by Madhuri Dixit).

She is a loving mother, a woman with a successful career, the breadwinner of her family, and most importantly, someone who calls men out when they try to patronise her. She dances on the street with her fans, helps her son accept his homosexuality, and follows her heart when it comes to her love life and career. Her character is developed so properly that it is impossible to criticise her actions even if they are immoral (or illegal). In fact, Anamika is so likeable that a police officer who initially views her as a self-involved celebrity starts feeling sorry for her by the end of the sixth episode.

If the viewers are made to fall in love with Anamika, why is she suddenly villainised in the last episode? Moreover, when issues such as ageism, sexism, and fear of failure are brought out throughout the series, why is the audience suddenly expected to feel surprised at the fact that these issues made her act irrationally?

It seemed as if the writers deliberately condemned and punished Anamika just because she wanted to act in her self-interest. As if it wasn’t enough for her character to have sacrificed her youth to feed her mother, to have compromised throughout her life by continuing to drag on with a loveless marriage, and to have looked after her household all by herself. If Anamika’s struggles are explained and her pain is showcased, then how can the audience digest that she is a selfish and shrewd woman?

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We definitely do NOT need more films and web series that normalise toxic masculinity

If toxic masculinity took human form, it would look somewhat like Anamika’s husband, Nikhil More (played by Sanjay Kapoor). Nikhil makes Kabir Singh look like an angel – he is physically violent towards his wife, financially dependent on her (even goes on to lose all her money), and is a homophobic man who almost kills his son when he catches him having sex with another boy (why did he enter his room, again?)

However, since Indian screenwriters consider all of this to be ‘normal behaviour’ for men, they punish Nikhil’s character by sending him to jail for a very short period of time and deplore Anamika instead, for her actions that led to his arrest. When he returns from jail, the viewers witness his daughter hugging him and his son (whom he had tried to kill) nodding in approval the moment he asks for forgiveness. Basically, all his sexist comments, life-threatening actions, oppressive nature, and unnecessary male entitlement are completely forgotten because he “accepts” his homosexual son who is actually “his wife’s lovechild with another man.”

So according to the makers of The Fame Game, Indian men need to be pedestalised and worshipped if they offer something as basic as an apology and raise someone who doesn’t carry their bloodline.

When will Indian screenwriters learn to do justice to the strong female characters they introduce in their films and web series?

Inspector Shobha Trivedi’s character made me smile broadly multiple times while watching the series. She is a woman officer working in a male-dominated field who ridicules a senior inspector the moment he makes a sexist remark about women and their time commitments.

What impressed me the most about her character was her absolute boldness when it came to her sexuality. When another male character brings up her lesbian partner as an attempt to poke her, she replies by saying, “Sheila is my partner. We have a son too. Everyone knows about it. There’s nothing to hide. Our story isn’t that juicy.”

Despite how strong Shobha’s character is, she doesn’t receive a very happy ending. Anamika’s case slips out of her hands, her findings and theories about the case are dismissed, and we see her receiving very little screentime in the last few scenes of the final episode.  Shobha deserved a lot more when it came to her presence and her role in the entire story.

If they tried to create a mystery, why did the viewers know what to expect?

The writers try to create a mystery about Anamika’s disappearance but fail to shock the viewers in end.

They kept introducing characters such as the abusive husband who needed money, the obsessive fan who turned into a stalker, the makeup artist who betrayed Anamika’s trust, the co-star who never stopped loving her. But, it is clear each and every time that none of these people are behind her disappearance.

Alongside that, the viewers are also told right from the start that Anamika possesses a gun, her husband and son don’t get along, and that her son is homosexual. Thus, the entire suspense about where the bullet mark on her wall came from, why her family is lying, and what they’re hiding don’t raise too many questions in the minds of the viewers.

Imagine if Akshay Kumar would’ve been shown having a conversation with Vidya Balan in Bhool Bhulaiyya (2007) about her troubled past or if it would’ve been told at the beginning of Drishyam (2013) itself that Ajay Devgan buried the corpse of a dog in his backyard (instead of the man his daughter accidentally killed). Most certainly, none of these stories would’ve remained exciting had any of that happened.

That is primarily the reason why The Fame Game fails to create an impact – everyone already knows what is going to happen.

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About the Author

Upasana Dandona

A dysgraphic writer who spends most of her time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...

45 Posts | 231,550 Views

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