Bollywood life

“My So-called Bollywood Life” is a flawed but loving take on Indian culture – The Daily Utah Chronicle

Nisha Sharma’s debut as an author, “My So-Called Bollywood Life”, is an excellent commentary on the author’s cultural background and the traditions on which it is based. The novel does justice to Indian culture, immersed in the world of Bollywood and star maps. It’s a different kind of love story than what you usually see on the YA shelf in the bookstore, but it’s worth reading.

Winnie Mehta is obsessed with cinema. Specifically, she is obsessed with Bollywood. Cinema isn’t necessarily part of the fate her family’s pundit (or priest) found for her in her star map from the night she was born – but that doesn’t stop Winnie from following her passion to apply for it. ‘New York University School of Film. Her star map, however, speaks of a prophecy that, until recently, Winnie believed to be true. The prediction says that Winnie must meet the love of her life – someone whose name begins with an “R”, who buys her a silver bracelet, and whom she will meet before she turns 18. Her ex, Raj, seemed to be the perfect fit until she found out he was cheating on her. Now Winnie isn’t quite sure what to believe. The only things she can turn to are the plots of her vast collection of Bollywood films – until Dev Shah comes crashing into her life.

Sharma is doing a fantastic job creating this book. I am biased because I myself am Indian and know all the terminology used in the book. From descriptions to the film’s plots, everything fits together perfectly to describe what it’s like to be a young Indian adult. This is the best read for someone like me who is able to understand the terminology of culture, but it may not be as ideal for readers unfamiliar with the culture. That’s not to say that others shouldn’t read it, but ultimately it depends on how willing people are to understand them on Google. Sharma does a good job with the translation and description, given that Winnie’s best friend Bridget is white. However, there is still a gap that is difficult to fill. Sharma captures the addiction to star charts in Indian culture extremely well. To put it simply, Sharma writes about Indian culture naturally, in a completely authentic way that has not been appropriate. This is the reason why I recommend reading the book.

The ratings from Winnie’s movies are a nice addition and they wrap the book up nicely, although I don’t agree with some of the ratings from my favorite movies. The downside to the novel is that it looks like a very young adult. The story has some aspects of depth, mostly related to culture, but the actual love triangle between Winnie, Dev, and Raj is especially confusing for high school drama. It is not something that most students could follow. Sometimes it seems like Sharma has cast parts of the plot at random.

Despite this, I would give this book 3 stars, if only for the redemptive quality it gives many aspects of my culture the justice they deserve. It’s important to remember that an author’s first novel is defining, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all future novels by them will be the same. I have high hopes for Nisha Sharma, despite the pitfalls of “My So-Called Bollywood Life”. If she continues to honestly portray Indian culture, I don’t see why her books won’t continue to sell.

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