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 Rayhans 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!
First look at the title and the cover and one can easily relate it to tinsel town. The shiny outlook, the dreamy aspects and the lone figure cuts out to be an aspiration self. Cut the chase and the title gives it away not all but almost up to a point. The blurb though very lengthy tells a thing or two about Rayhan and his endeavors of life. The blurb needed trimming and rest was up to the readers to uncover the tale.
The story if of Rayhan who on his father's insistence is pursuing Finance from U.S.A but much against his wishes. He wants to be a filmmaker but all the while he has not been able to put up a brave facade and man up for the hard life. The luxury and comfort taking it's toll. Add to that Vanita's introduction in her life as her life partner adds to his misery as he is stuck between the mind and heart dilemma. So how will Rayhan handle his tempered father? Will he ever be able to pursue his dream? Will his destiny take him to new heights or he is bound to be just another failure? That's what the story is all about.
The book traverses a very simple path, the path to ultimate salvation. The hunger to achieve a goal and the desire to conquer all. In between it all there's a story which teaches you hardships and harsh realities of life. Be it menacing presence, recurring failures, manipulative personalities it all comes and whizzes past leaving you dazed. The book banks on the doldrums of life and serves the experience hot and fresh from a humor filled and serious perspective. There's an element of ponder in it which keeps the entire book going and let you draw comparisons from the real facade. It rather becomes heavy towards the end.
The downside of the story is lack of depth and intensity. Time and again it tries to make a larger than life appearance but the spark ignites and then falls flat. The story needed more from other characters which is another aspect where it fails to gather much momentum. The career dilemma is good up to a certain point but the familiar tone to it brings nothing new to the table.
All in all the book does a decent job in narrating one of those failure-success stories. It gives you grave insight as to what one has to do achieve the heights and conquer the odds but on the other hand as a reader the wishful thinking cap falls down time and again to churn out newer ideas to do so. It's a good story line but needed more work to gather more accolades.
3 OUT OF 5