Subhash K Jha reviews Bad Boy Billionaires for IWMBuzz

Review Of Netflix’s Bad Boy Billionaires: Selective And Scattered In Being Scathing

Bad Boy Billionaires (Netflix)

Rating: ** ½

Thanks to the court case against the release of this high-profile expose/biography on four of the most notorious billionaires of India, Bad Boy Billionaires comes to us, albeit minus one episode, with a whole lot more curiosity value attached to it than warranted.

All the three-hour-long episodes share a common trait: the fall from grace of high-fliers. I found the exercise a bit hypocritical because the people now sitting on their high horses commenting in the docu-series on Vijay Mallya’s extravagant lifestyle were busy partying with him as if there was no tomorrow.

Yesterday’s hedonists, today’s moralists.All a matter of time. As for being branded a disgraceful tycoon, it’s all about not getting caught with or without your pants down. The Vijay Mallya segment is specially embarrassing for the way the compromised have turned into accomplices. One socialite calls Mallya a naughty child who never grew up. How grown-up are we as a nation to let these tycoons hoodwink us?

The documentary is selective and scattered in being scathing. We are told about the Wild Mallya parties but nothing about what went on in them. A major South Indian superstar had once described a typical Vijay Mallya party to me. It wasn’t pleasant.

Sure, he didn’t pay his employees and hosted an obscenely lavish 60th birthday party. But did Mallaya deserve to be made the posterboy of Swach Bharat (Clean India)?

Bad Boy Billionaires No 2 Neerav Modi’s diamond-studded saga is not short of ironies either. But here at least the people speaking about his work ethics are frequently those who knew him as a workforce rather than those who partied with him. There is also a bit of background information on Neerav about his apprenticeship with his uncle and the elaborate lies he told in his interviews about his family background.

Both Neerav Modi and Subrato Roy (in the third film) struck me as being projected as distinctly delusional in the astronomical aspirations. The spell that Roy had cast on Bollywood is only touched upon in the Netflix documentary. I have seen the biggest of stars genuflect before ‘Saharshree’ as he was respectfully called, and just as quickly seen the whole film industry dispense of him when he was disgraced.

Of the three profiles of Indian entrepreneurs released in Bad Boy Billionaires,the Subrato Roy profile is the most revealing. It shows a whole nation being conned into believing in the myth of the modern-day altruist, warts moles, loopholes and all. Among the three bratty billionaires profiled in this fairly humdrum omnibus, the Subrato segment is the only one that shows the man possessing the common Indian’s mind in an evangelical grip.

So what makes the common man so accepting of these dapper thugs hiding their lawsuits in well-tailored suits? The anthology has little to reveal on what makes us Indians such sucker for social climbers, the higher they go steeper the fall.

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