Monday, February 23, 2015

HiFi In Bollywood - Review

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!

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. His short story, The Mysterious Couple, was selected by Sudha Murty for her anthology Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, published by Penguin Books. HiFi in Bollywood is his second novel. 
He writes for delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW).

It’s heartening to see new authors in the block, who produce works of quality that you feel good reading. Rishi Vohra sure would find a place in this list owing to his gripping narrative style that engages the readers and draws them completely into the story. I had read his debut novel ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’, and liked it. I am glad Rishi continued the good work with his next venture ‘HiFi In Bollywood.’

HiFi stands for Hindi Film Industry, and the term Bollywood is synonymously used for it. Thus, one can easily guess the backdrop of the story. Rayhan, the protagonist, dreams of being a Bollywood director. However, his strict Dad had him pursue a financial degree from the United States and expects him to settle down there in a prosperous corporate job with a girl of his choice, Vanita. Obvously, Rayhan doesn’t want to be tied down by his father’s high aspirations of him, and secretly comes to Mumbai to try his hands in film making.

Though the story has a simple plot, what makes it attractive is the seamless flow. Right from the first chapter, the readers can relate with the protagonist, Rayhan. He is just a normal guy, with dreams in his heart, and yet being forced to pursue a career that he doesn’t want but is expected to follow. Now, isn’t that something that we have all have felt sometimes in our lives? There are factors that often influence our decisions, and the book highlights it perfectly.

The narration is easy going, and thus the story turns out to be a quick read. What goes inside a film studio, and how a movie is made, has been described very vividly through the view of Rayhan. The author hasn’t strayed into unnecessary details that could have bogged down the pace of the story, but instead paints the images in a crisp and smooth manner.

There are various characters in the book, each bringing a new flavour to the plot. We feel sad for Vanita when Rayhan completely ignores her without having even met her, but the latter has his reasons for the same. Then there is the mystery lady Viola, who steals Rayhan’s heart and mind. The crews in the movie set, the director and the production team, also provide able support to the flow of the story. However, it is Rayhan’s father, whose realistic characterization steals the show. He is strict, and wants his son to follow whatever he says. However, within him is also a caring parent who wishes to see his son happy forever, and thus tries to guide him based on his life’s experiences. Unfortunately, that guidance often comes across as rude commands, which create a cold relationship between the father and the son.

HiFi In Bollywood’ is a pleasing read that can be tried at least once. The editing is top notch, and you will hardly find any error, which again is a big satisfaction to avid readers. There are some twists in the plot, but then you could predict a few of them. Watch out for the special appearance by a leading Bollywood star though. It certainly adds to the fun quotient.

So, if you love Hindi movies, ‘Hifi in Bollywood’ deserves a shot. Grab this one for sure for your next leisurely weekend or a quick journey-time read.

Title: HiFi In Bollywood
Author: Rishi Vohra
Publisher: Jaico
Publication Year: 2015
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Urban Life
No. of Pages: 264
Price: Rs 299
My Rating: 4/5