Whenever an author comes out with his/her second offering it intrigues me. It means something definitely went right for the author the first time round and also that the author would have matured more since his first book and would also be able to see things better from readers’ perspective as well.
HiFi in Bollywood by Rishi Vohra is the second book by the author. Apparently his first book Once upon the tracks of Mumbai which I read and reviewed sometime last year became a best seller. The cover design is definitely an improvement from his last book and I was expecting something similar inside the book too.
★★ (2 out of 5)
Rayhan Arora is doing a finance degree in the USA but his long cherished dream is to become a director in Bollywood. As a single parent child he has lot of respect or ‘darr’ of his father and is trying to live his father’s dream of studying in US and getting a good corporate job and settling there.
But when his father tells him to marry an Indian girl, the daughter of his long time friend in the US, Rayhan gets agitated and decides to try his luck in Bollywood aka Hindi Film Industry (HiFi). He takes off from Berkeley and lands in Mumbai without telling his father and gets a job as an assistant director in a big banner film directed by a big time director Saajan B with big star cast.
He meets different characters during this journey, a friend who hooked him up for the job, another one whose sexual appetite is voracious, his long time maid and her daughter who also has dreams to make it big in HiFi.
Also on the sets he meets the love of his life Viola whom he falls deeply in love with after having some arguments initially.
As the book progresses Rayhan understands how the film industry works & compromises one has to do here and how it all depends on the moods of superstars like Tarina and Jahaan khan. Its an uneasy ride for him from that point.
How Rayhan fits into the HiFi and how he handles issues at his personal end, is he able to make it big in the industry, does he gets the love of Viola is covered in the remaining book.
What I Think
Sometime last year I have reviewed the debut novel by the author Once upon the Tracks of Mumbai which although not too brilliant but did read promising and I had thought that the author would improve upon what he dished out the first time. And when I picked up this book I expected something of that sort.
To my utter dismay the book is a total let down, reads like a rip-off of a Bollywood movie, very mediocre writing and a total downer in every sense.
At some levels the book is inspired by the author’s own life and he has tried to weave a story around it but unsuccessfully. I think not all the stories that happen in one’s life are worth telling, certainly not in the manner in which Vohra did in this novel.
In his first novel at least the characters that were written were good but in this book the characters are very loose, they evoke no emotion good or bad. He couldn’t even depict Mumbai in a good manner this time around.
There is nothing new that you will learn about Bollywood (except may be that film industry people like to call it HiFi) or direction or any film making process except for the things that you already keep on reading in tabloids such as casting couch, homosexuality, star tantrums. Even if you replace the protagonist’s dream of becoming a filmmaker with any other profession it would not make a difference to story line.
If you ask me if there is anything good in this book, I will have to think really hard and then also I can’t come back with anything worth mentioning. May be that one line from Jim Carrey about doing what you love that he quotes in the beginning and end of the novel.
Now you might think that I am a bit exaggerating in my criticism of this book and I might agree up to an extent because this criticism is fueled not only by the worthless book that is written and published but by my disappointment towards the way new-gen Indian author treats the readers of today.
Unfortunately the formula to make a hit Bollywood movie is also being applied on the books it seems. Sell something cheap, short, with a cheesy title, easy to read (Hinglish) so that reader has a satisfaction that they have ‘read a book’ and the author can revels in the glory of the so called ‘bestseller’.
So yes don’t go by what I am saying, there will still be a reader base for such types of books and you might still find HiFi in Bollywood in the ‘bestseller’ list in the coming days. But its definitely not for people like me.
PS: Thanks to the author for providing the copy. You can get more info about the book at http://rishivohra.com/