Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Avoid, yaar! a book review of Bollywood Confidential by Sonia Singh

(Vielen dank [es ist fur dich, Michael!] to Tamara for giving me this book for Christmas. I have been lured by its title many, many times and had been wanting to read it for ages. Little did either of us know....)

This is a bad book. It's packaged as - and I daresay written for the market of - "chick lit," and it does the term absolute disservice (even when one recalls how insultingly awful most chick lit is). This may be the worst of this genre I've read, and that's saying a lot.

The author really seems to love Bollywood, and believe me, I can understand having a hard time containing one's love of Bollywood to oneself. But that doesn't make up for not having an interesting story to tell - the plot device of an American actress in her first Bollywood movie could have been funny, but we have to care about her and what she discovers. I felt like this was simply an excuse to try to get the uninitiated to watch Bollywood. A very fine mission, I am the first to agree. But not like this. It showed all of the bad stereotypes and none of the good, all of the ridiculous with none of the seductive joy that holds those bits together. This was littered with little preachy-teachy bits that didn't fit in and just clunked along. Sentences like "I hear Bollywood fans number almost a billion" and "the [Gateway of India] had been open to visitors since 1924" have nothing to do with the story and nothing to do with the breezy, surface tone that the rest of the book uses.

So I can see how the author meant well. A fish-out-of-water/insider look at Bollywood is a great idea, and I'd read other stabs at it. I also have to say that the plot of the movie the protagonist stars in is delightfully bad and almost conceivable, and if anyone wants to know what it is, get a copy from your local library and I'll tell you the page numbers to read. Otherwise, I am sad to say, in the time it takes you to wade through this, you could just go watch KKHH and your favorite bits of KNPH. Might as well be true to your love, hai na?

3 comments:

michael said...

here in germany it's more worse: everybody without any knowledge (perhaps 3 or 4 movies seen on tv) thinks he's an expert. this way they write books cause right now bollywood is cool. they sell worse translated and more worse cut dvds cause it sells - not to speak about ebay and its illegal copies. thats some problem with trends - but the trend will go, we bollymaniacs will stay. but for writing books there you need more but only the love for bollywood, i think.

Accidental Fame Junkie said...

Ekdum! (Totally!) I googled for this book. It tries to be kitchy cool but I would rather trust another reader's opinion. I can see why it's so attractive to first timers. The cover design and other perpheral stuff is great. I guess it's the content that pulls it down.

Beth said...

Michael: right on! An interest does not a writer make - at least not in novel form!

AFJ: right on! Do not, do not read this book. It's a great idea in theory but just did not work out at all. Life is too short to read bad books.