Monday, February 23, 2015

Review- Hifi in Bollywood by Rishi Vohra

Goodreads Summary:


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!


*NOTE: We (The Readdicts) received a copy of Hifi in Bollywood by Rishi Vohra in exchange for an honest review. We thank Rishi for the book! 

The story of a young boy Rayhan Arora and his journey of pursuing his dreams of being a filmmaker by being a rebel and a true heart follower, Hifi in Bollywood, contrary to author Rishi Vohra's debut Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai, was a very conventional and stereotypical story, although it was quite an entertainer as well. After having read and really liked the author's previous novel, I went into Hifi in Bollywood with expectations of course, which unfortunately, weren't always fulfilled. While this review may sound mostly negative, like I said, the story was an entertaining roller coaster ride with lots of zigs and zags. It is definitely not bad as a one-time read; it is, in fact, worth it actually.

Hifi in Bollywood, as the summary pinpoints, takes the reader on a ride from the streets of Berkeley to Mumbai, the city of dreams. The Berkeley part was quite fascinating, and it was especially fun from Rayhan's point of view. Once the Mumbai part kicks off, the narration, like the city itself, speeds up, for the better of course. Another point that the summary suggests but fails to adhere to is the reality of the Hindi Film Industry which wasn't anything different from what we are used to reading in gossip columns. For me, the story itself was a Bollywood movie with the very typically Indian middle-class setup and the character portrayals. The book reminded me a lot of the movie I Hate Luv Storys

Coming to the main character Rayhan, he seemed like a decent, nice, simple, well mannered and easy-going guy, and it was really disappointing to see him succumb to not so pleasant measures at some point, especially when his own conscience pricked him someway or the other. His change in attitude regarding marriage and his rather chauvinistic demand towards the end were disappointing as well. At the same time, however, Rayhan was quite a cool and almost level-headed person who was very passionate about his passion. And like he himself says, it's all human nature. The other characters in the book were average in their buildup, and at some point, I saw the major spoiler coming, and it bugged me to no end, because it was way too obvious. Some characters like the local Mumbai goons added a comic element which was fresh and funny. 

It's not like I didn't like Hifi in Bollywood. It was a nice, quick and entertaining read. I just felt that it wasn't anything different. As always, the one aspect I really liked was Rishi's description of Mumbai. I don't visit the city often, but even I can say it was apt and spot on. While the epilogue was satisfying, I didn't feel like smiling once I shut the book. I was a teeny tiny bit disappointed with Hifi in Bollywood, especially seeing as it is Rishi Vohra's book, and he is definitely a great author who has really interesting stories to tell, which I will still be looking forward to in the future. 


1 comment:

  1. Ah, I think I know the feeling, of being let down because the story ended up a bit too cliched and "been there, done that". And yet also being reassured and entertained by a common story. It's good you enjoyed this one overall even if it wasn't anything too special, Sarika! Hopefully your next read by the same author really will blow you away :) Great thoughts!


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