An aspiring filmmaker. The dizzying heights of Bollywood and a strained father-son relationship.
Rayhan Arora’s long cherished dream is to be a filmmaker in the Hindi Film Industry but his formidable father has other plans a successful financial career in Corporate America and a marriage of convenience with Vanita, a medical student in the US.
In a final act of desperation, Rayhan abandons his promising life in California and secretly returns to Mumbai to work as an Assistant Director in Bollywood. The characters he encounters along the way become part of his journey of self-discovery – a self-proclaimed local goon with a penchant for acting; a powerful local politician who wants to marry Rayhan’s part-time domestic help, who in turn covets stardom; an angst-ridden, homosexual film director; ego-ridden film stars with twisted agendas; and the mysterious Viola who captures his heart.
HiFi in Bollywood takes the reader from the streets of Berkeley to the film studios of Mumbai; from red-light areas to police stations and from reality to dreams and back to reality again!
Being a lover of Bollywood, I hadn’t much choice but to read the book. As I’d grown up on a staple of Hindi movies, ‘Bollywood’ as we call it, seemed very alluring from a distance. Most of the audience looks only at the glamour and glitz of it, ever aspiring to be on big screen, rather than acknowledging the gruelling work that goes behind a film. Rishi Vohra, being an insider in Bollywood, decided to write this book, fictionalising parts of it, blending with some of his own experiences.
The story is of Rayhaan, it’s all about him actually. He struggles between his dreams of being a director of movies in Bollywood, but ends up with a Berkeley degree in Finance, due to his father. It is a struggle of father and son’s aspirations, not too uncommon in our country. Innumerable readers will instantly identify with Rayhaan, as they go through the same turmoil. I’ve met Graduate students in the USA, who perhaps wanted to be something else, but had to toil in a wrong choice of industry. Rayhaan is also set up with a girl of his father’s choice in California, and he ditches meeting her, instead landing up in Mumbai to pursue his dreams.
What follows is a cat and mouse chase between Rayhaan and his father. How he fares in Bollywood, and what experiences he undergoes, are layered very well in the story. There are subplots that bring enough humour into the story, characters that you’ll identify with any Bollywood movie characters and a glimpse into the lives of filmstars. I like the way Rishi has described what goes on in a film set, because that is very important for the audience to know. People often wonder if the assistant directors are ever on a payroll or do they get paid as the film fares at the box office. Rishi has quite a few answers about film-making. I loved the drama on the sets among various designations – director, producer, assistant director, hero, heroine, spotboy. There’s love, too. Rayhaan finds her in a mysterious way, and I’m not to going to spell out a spoiler here. Rishi’s language is easy with crisp dialogues, and I enjoyed the book.
Overall, it’s a good read, connected to our roots. We thrive on Bollywood, love it, hate it, but we can’t ignore it. Recommended for everyone who loves movies and romance.
My Rating: 4/5
About the Author:
Rishi Vohra relocated back to Mumbai after completing a Green MBA from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law, prior to which he had an extensive career in the Indian Entertainment Industry. His debut novel Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai was a bestseller and awarded a special mention at the Hollywood Book Festival. He writes for delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW).
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Contemporary
Author(s): Rishi Vohra
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House, Year Published: December 2014
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 264
ISBN-13: 978-8184956481 , ISBN-10: 8184956487