Book Review - HiFi in Bollywood by Rishi Vohra

HiFi in Bollywood by Rishi Vohra takes the person who reads from the streets of Berkeley to the motion picture studios of Mumbai. The book takes us across red-light areas to police stations and from veracity to imaginings and back to truth all over again.

The journey unfolds of an aspiring filmmaker Rayhan Arora amidst the dizzying heights of Bollywood. His enchanting dream is to become one of the top filmmakers in the Hindi Film Industry where stars are born. We also see a edgy father-son bond. His redoubtable father have other plans to see him in a thriving financial career in Corporate America. We also come across a matrimony of convenience with Vanita, a medical apprentice in the US.

In an ultimate work of desperation, Rayhan abandons his gifted life in California. He furtively returns to Mumbai to work as an Assistant Director in Bollywood. But as life would have it, when he finally make it as a filmmaker in Bollywood, the fight for supremacy on the dreamy artificial sets of Bollywood begins. Here slowly his dreams comes crashing down after which nothing remains the same but only luck to carry him through.

From here on his daily trysts with the characters he encounters along the way become part of his journey of self-discovery. They all has their own goals and always want to be ahead of the others. He finds a self-proclaimed neighbourhood goon with a affinity for acting. He comes across an influential neighbourhood politician who wants to tie the knot with his part-time domestic help. She in turn covets fame. He finds an anguished homosexual movie director and ego-ridden big screen stars with perverse agendas. Then there is the mystifying Viola who captures his mind.

Amidst the cut-throat competition to be on the top and as an outsider in the industry, he has to work hard to have his way up among the others. He struggle every inch to understand the ground rules there. Within all the blame games and the lies, he is forced to prove himself everyday but it is the approval of the director which makes him strive for the best.

Written with a light touch and a generous dose of wit, the novel strikes a chord with not just new Bollywood wannabes. It is also for those who love to get lost in this dream world of fantasy. The title of the book is kind of a metaphor for the glamorous world of Bollywood where people only see the glitz and the glamour. But behind the face of bright lights lays immense struggle.

The book delves beyond the glamorous world of bollywood and the best part is even in the darkness. The touch of satire and the easy pace of narration keeps the reader hooked till the very end. The author shows the inside story and behind the scene episodes of Bollywood to readers. Here in a crew even a junior member sometimes can yield more power than an experienced veteran just because the profession demands so.

In this light-hearted engaging satirical take on the filmdom, there are characters and everyone has a role to play. The book simply flows on with numerous interesting real-life situations. There is the cocktail of love, betrayal, ambition, jealousy and tragedy making it a perfect pot-boiler like any Bollywood action movie.

The book is about a trial or the struggle through which any Bollywood aspirant goes through. Here he or she has to keep adapting everyday until you make it so big that you’re a household name. Here there are thousand Rayhan’s who enter this magical kingdom with an array of dreams which comes down to earth once they are there. It’s a kind of mini hand-guide of the way to the top without any sugar coating for young bollywood aspirants who has no backing to start with or legendary grand-fathers.

The author paints a vivid picture of the film studios to the bungalows of the so-called superstars. It depicts the simple reality that life is not any fast-food. The constant determination and the will to succeed will ultimately decide your fate in life. It doesn’t matter what family background you come from, it’s only your perseverance that matters.

Overall the book is well narrated and the characterization is very good. The writing is quite light and impressive and flows on easily and will keep you glued till the very end.
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