I had loved Rishi Vohra's previous book, Once Upon The Tracks of Mumbai, which was an easy read, with its story set on the railway tracks of suburban Mumbai. Naturally I was delighted when he was good enough to send me a review copy of his next one, titled HiFi in Bollywood. As the name indicates, the plot of this novel is set in the big, bad world of Hindi movies- Bollywood, or as the author prefers, HiFi, short for Hindi Film Industry. That I believe explains the title.
Hindi Film Industry based in Mumbai is the stuff dreams are made of, good dreams and nightmares alike. From decades, several aspirants have appeared in Mumbai, seeking the glitz and glamour of HiFi, from around the world. A few went on to become legends, some settled for less glamorous careers within the industry, many found alternative livelihoods in the city and lot of persons were lost in the torrent of life without realizing their dreams. HiFi has told many stories through the dazzling movies that it churned out, but the untold human interest stories that it contains within itself is numerous. Rishi Vohra tries to tell one such story, one that is partly based on his life within HiFi, with much passion and enthusiasm.
HiFi in Bollywood is the tale of Rayhan Arora, whose dominant father pressures him to pursue a financial career in USA and to marry Vanitha, a medical student there. Rayhan, who is brought up on a diet of Hindi masala movies has a dream of becoming a director. Skipping the meeting arranged by his father with his prospective bride, he return to India and becomes an Assistant Director in Bollywood. He does this secretly without informing his strict father. HiFi in Bollywood follows Rayhan through his life in Mumbai, trying to realize his dream of becoming a Director of movies. On the way, we are acquainted with a bunch of colorful characters, who plays their role in Rayhan's path to self-discovery.
I should really appreciate the cover design that gives the reader a clear picture of what to expect inside it. The pastel colors and the illustration of busy Mumbai street is apt for the novel. I am happy that Vohra has improved tremendously from his debut novel. The prose is much more polished, the narrative is crispier and characterization is believable and natural. It is evident that the novelist knows the inside of the world of HiFi and that comfort level shows in the result. The reader gets a peek into the psychs of stars, directors, producers and aspirants of HiFi. Author touches so many aspects of life in Mumbai, but like a master juggler manages to assemble them seamlessly into the main plot. I also loved that the writer withholds himself from being judgmental about the whole thing and abstain himself from over-sentimentality that usually plagues such plots.
HiFi in Bollywood is an interesting, feel good novel. It succeeds in telling a simple story about realizing one's dreams against odds.
...And as a bonus, it has a cameo by Salman Khan, if that interests you!
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