There was a time a Bollywife was considered a demure creature, enmeshed in domestic bliss, in a league of her own. Today’s Bollywives, however, are in quite a different league of their own. They wear their attitude on the hip and shoot from the lip. Shoot at them, and they shoot right back, tapping into a reservoir of chic ‘F’ and ‘B’ bombs.
Although the media called them the ‘B-Lite’ of Bollywood (and not the ‘E-Lite’, given that their husbands are no cult heroes), Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives pandered well to the curious diaspora and subscribers who love all things film. So though the pandemic currents stood in stark contrast to the wives, in angst over missing domestics and bad wine, the show hit the voyeuristic streak in couch-locked populations. Their next season, they claim, resonates better with the post- pandemic shifts: “We are more introspective” they chime, collectively.
While we look forward to getting insights into how today’s Bollywives call the shots far beyond the domestic frontier, multitasking across passions, protecting her star kids’ interests, keeping ungainly kilos at bay, botoxing on candid cam, escorting the ‘B-Lite’ husbands to premiers, parties and rarely, location shoots, we’ll see the deeper cracks in their gilded lives. A little more gut than just glory.
HELLO! got talking to the girl tribe — Maheep Kapoor, Seema Kiran Sajdeh, Neelam Kothari Soni and Bhavana Pandey — ‘more seasoned’ this time around, as they confess what Netflix stardom means to them at 40-plus, shattering the myth that visibility in entertainment belongs only to screen- tweens. Over to the power ladies!
Seema Kiran Sajdeh
H!: While shooting for Season 2 of Fabulous Lives, what were the moments you most loved?
SKS: Honestly, I had a blast. For all of us, it’s not work; it’s like we are hanging out. We are ‘doing’ us... I am playing me, and do note that all my three ‘co-stars’ have faced the camera at some point in their lives. I’m raw. My personality is such that I often say things I shouldn’t, and then call Maheep in a panic the next day. She says, “The only thing that will work for you is prayers!” Because I have no filter!
H!: Last season, very SATC style, you had a girls trip to Abu Dhabi. Is travel a part of Season 2, as well?
SKS: Yes, we did do a girls’ trip in this season, too. I live to travel. That exposure opens your mind. I love meeting new people, trying new cuisines, seeing new places... Out of your comfort zone, you realise that you are actually so ‘f***ing’ insignificant!
H!: Until now, you may have been referred to as a ‘Bollywife’, but now you’re also a ‘Bollymum’!
MK: I love being a mummyji! I love being a star mom! It’s my most exciting phase yet! My daughter Shanaya doesn’t allow me on the set. But I’m like a lioness. If I could fight her every battle, I would.
H!: Your show attracted its fair share of trolling. Did that bother you?
MK: When we are all going through this together, it’s less scary. Where Karan’s trolls are concerned... I’ve learned so much from that man. He has a good laugh. It’s magical. The troll is nameless, faceless... I say, “We don’t know who the f**k you are, but you are taking the time out to make that comment!” That’s all that matters.
H!: How is this season a patch over the first?
MK: I think in Season 2, there’s a lot more depth. We upped our game even with our styling... We fixed a lot of things in Season 2.
Neelam Kothari Soni
H!: How did Karan ensure that you all delivered your best for Season 2?
NKS: Right off, Karan said, “It’s a reality show, it’s not scripted, it’s got to come from the heart, and you got to own it and give it your 100 percent; otherwise, don’t do it!” After watching Season 1, where he felt our personalities had come across, for Season 2, he said we had to scratch below the surface of our relationships.
H!: How has being featured in Fabulous Lives changed things for you?
NKS: FLOBW has been a complete game-changer for me! When I was doing films, we had no social media. But after this show dropped, my DMs on Instagram just exploded! Worldwide, people still remembered my songs and my films. I had young girls messaging me, saying, “My mom was your fan, and now I’m your big fan! I have gone back in time, watching all your films!’ (laughs). Who says life is over for women at 50? For me, it’s just begun! Now my businesses are taking off, as well. If it wasn’t for Karan, I’d have just been in my comfort zone in my office, meeting clients.
H!: How is it working with broad structures and no script on this show?
BP: (Laughs) Trust me, I cannot act! If it was scripted, you’d immediately know! We are given a set up, but what we are going to say, how each one will react, all that’s candid. Say, we’re at lunch, and we’re given a topic — or sometimes, it just comes up. The discussion that follows is candid. That fight scene between me and Seema wasn’t just authentic, it left me shaken! All my life, I’ve been called a people pleaser. If I had been forced into a scene like that, I’d have probably stepped back because that’s not my personality! But the situation blew up into a genuine squabble.
H!: How is Season 2 an evolution of Season 1, according to you?
BP: I’d like people to decide, but I definitely feel I’m more comfortable in my own skin. Covid changed the way we think, the way we talk... So there are subtle shifts in the way we are with each other, even our attitudes on camera. We are introspective... You want to hold your ground, but you also want to be kind and let things go.
Photography: Nuno Oliveria; Creative Direction: Avantikka Kilachand; Fashion Editor: Sonam Poladia; Junior Stylist: Anushree Sardesai; Makeup: Sahitya Shetty For Bhavana Pandey; Mitali Vakil For Neelam Kothari Soni; Divya Chablani For Seema Khan; Neelu Sarkar For Maheep Kapoor; Hair: Madhav Trehan For Bhavana Pandey; Tina Mukharjee For Neelam Kothari Soni; Sagar Patil For Seema Khan; Kimberly Chu For Maheep Kapoor; Location Courtesy: Jolie’s Club, Birla Centurion, Worli, Mumbai
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in HELLO! India’s August 2022 issue. To read the full interview, get your hands on the latest issue right here!