Sparkling, very still: An uber rich life

Going by the kinds of TV shows that audiences are gravitating to, the world seems to be in a mood of weary acceptance, or waiting for a bad spell to pass. If stories of rich complexity, combining humans and mythical creatures, such as in Game of Thrones and House of The Dragon, have mass appeal, the reason must be because these Covid years have been extremely unpredictable. When reality seems surreal, only fantasy can portray life.

If art mirrors life and we’re mired in fake news and alternative facts, it’s no wonder reality TV, ironically enough, feels artificially contrived. Netflix’s Dubai Bling, the latest example of gorgeous banality in the category, repeats all the usual tropes we’ve come to expect in a drama that focuses on wealthy, socially prominent women: flashy cars, designer labels, and dating of cool dinners involving a helicopter. . (Similar scenes appear in The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives and Selling Sunset). Yet behind the bejeweled socialites slipping from evening hours to nightclubs lies a magical, golden hue that shimmers from soaring skyscrapers – by far, the most interesting character in Dubai Bling is the glittering metropolis itself.

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In certain circles, Dubai is jokingly referred to as the best city in India. According to government data, over 4,000 high-net-worth Indians have relocated as NRIs to the global hub of the UAE this year. There are many reasons. It’s a start to ensure their high school kids can make a smooth transition out West for college. Some claim it’s for a better lifestyle – after all, who in their right mind would continue to breathe Delhi’s toxic air or deal with the disappointing infrastructure in Mumbai and Bangalore if they had a choice? Others worry about the ongoing socio-political-economic turmoil in India. Arguably, however, the main motivation to move stems from the convenient loopholes in Dubai’s investment policies that allow savvy businessmen to escape regulation and evade the nosy tax smarts from the formidable Enforcement Directorate here.

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Because the super-rich everywhere want to protect their wealth, Dubai is filled with industrialists, successful performing artists and aristocrats from other volatile neighbors like Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran. The upshot is that it’s an exotic playground of rich expats and retirees whose lives aren’t too dissimilar to the protagonists of Dubai Bling.

The transnational NRI existence has many financial benefits, as long as one can philosophically accept that boredom is the cost of growing the bank balance (in the hierarchy of catastrophes that befall 90% of humanity, this does not even qualify as an issue). Anyway, someone should make a reality show about millionaire NRIs ensconced in their towers in a flaming purgatory, twiddling their thumbs, their only occupation being managing their wealth, which takes exactly 45 minutes a day. What to do with the remaining 16 waking hours for 182 days? (The rules are that NRIs cannot be physically present in India for more than six months of the year and cannot work in Dubai). So, the rich NRI’s biggest problem is that despite its bright streets and buzzing nightlife, time stands still. The day, spent between a spa, a gym, a salon – and countless other pleasures of indolence – quickly fades. Living outside the confines of conventional employment is isolating, even if you are surrounded by a group of international jets who are surrounded by the same anger problem.

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“Here’s to alcohol, the rose-colored glasses of life,” mutters the stripped-down hero of Scott F Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, whose great wealth kills ambition but a lack of purpose creates an oppressive emptiness. The central theme of Dubai Bling carries the excesses of the Jazz Age, now played in the expat area of ​​the city. The problems don’t end. Even when the senses are a thousand times gratified, there is exhausting laziness to contend with.

Writer is director, Hutkay Films


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