Tune in each week as Marhaba delves into the wonderful world of popular culture to find the best new TV series, movies, books, and music.


Bling Empire NetflixNetflix’s new reality TV show is Bling Empire, which follows the lives of uber-wealthy Asians and Asian-Americans in the US – think Crazy Rich Asians meets Selling Sunset via Keeping Up With The Kardashians. This show is going to be your next obsession! The group of friends and frenemies live in Los Angeles and spend their days shopping, partying, travelling and running businesses – or waiting for the day to inherit the family’s riches. For them, each day is just one long Instagram post, as the influencers and socialites bicker and spill the beans on each other’s love lives while snapping themselves wearing the latest designer this and that or DJing at a club. It’s a binge-worthy eight episodes of crazy rich folks doing ridiculous things – and sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that!


Based on the bestselling and Booker Prize-winning novel by Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger follows Balram (Adarsh Gourav) who narrates the epic tale of his rise from rags to riches in India. He is a chauffer for Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas, also executive producer) and Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) who have recently returned to India from the US, and is a servant who will do anything for his employers. However, he turns against them after having been the butt of their jokes for far too long and then being betrayed. This is filmmaker Ramin Bahrani’s first movie set outside of the US, and offers a dark, humorous look at the global underclass – in some ways, similar to the phenomenon Parasite. This Netflix original is available from 22 January, having had a limited release in theatres on 13 January.


The Charmed Wife

The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin is the fairytale of Cinderella, but not as you’ve read it before! Cinders has been married to Prince Roland, the man of her dreams, for a long thirteen and a half years and has two children. What should be a perfect life isn’t. She asks the Witch for a potion – not for love, but to kill her not-so-charming husband. This is a thoroughly modern and adult retelling of the classic story – dark, funny, whimsical, and a story for the 21st century. Other characters from the original story, including Cinderella’s mice Brie and Nibbles, the fairy godmother and talking teapots, uplift the darker moments, as well as the many references to other fairy tales. Read this enchanting book to find out if Cinderella gets her happy ever after!


One Night in MiamiSometimes the soundtrack to a movie is just as good as the film itself. A case in point is One Night in Miami, the movie starring Leslie Odom Jr (Hamilton) as the legendary singer Sam Cooke. Directed by Oscar-winner Regina King, the movie is a fictionalised conversation between the boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali), football player Jim Brown, activist Malcolm X, and Cooke on the historic night of 25 February 1964 – the night Clay became the world heavyweight boxing champion. The soundtrack captures this night with a moody selection of jazzy and soulful tracks, overseen by the Oscar-winning composer and trumpeter Terence Blanchard. Odom is the star both on the screen and the soundtrack, singing six of Cooke’s biggest hits as well as his own composition Speak Now. The album perfectly evokes how it must have felt to be part of that historic night.

Author: Sarah Palmer

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