that of Nisha Sharma My so-called Bollywood life will have you aggressively swooning at least once while making you want to add every possible Bollywood movie to your Netflix queue.
My exposure to the world of Bollywood films begins and ends with exactly one movie – Bride and prejudice – that I love. Unfortunately, even though I know Bollywood movies as a genre of movie, and although I always thought they would 100% be the exact kind of movie that I would love, I have always been a bit intimidated. because I ‘I never really knew where to start.
Fortunately, now I have Nisha Sharma’s My so-called Bollywood life and its fantastic protagonist Winnie Mehta to guide me through the wonderful world of Bollywood movies.
The story centers on Winnie after her breakup with Raj, her boyfriend of three years. This puts her on a loop – more than usual – because a pundit literally gave her a prediction that said that she would meet her soul mate before she was 18, her name would start with the letter “R” and he would offer her a silver bracelet. And Raj ticks all of those boxes – so, learned soul mate, right?
Except apparently not, since she returns from filming camp to find out he’s dating someone else – and to make matters worse, they still have to co-lead the Film Club and plan the massive festival together. of the movie. Add to that Dev, an old friend, and another member of the film club that she suddenly begins to see in a new light, and you have the perfect story of how Winnie Mehta’s real life became her own movie. from Bollywood.
I have been a long-time, proud and (some might say rather aggressive) supporter of the rom-com genre. I watch When Harry meets Sally every New Years Eve, will put Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 version) on a given rainy day and will You’ve got mail at the end of any long and trying day.
There is just something heartwarming about inhabiting a world where people fall in love in strange ways, where big gestures are made, shenanigans occur, dramatic events take place – but no matter what, you always know that. it’s going to end with a big kiss. and one happy forever.
That’s why I love this book and the character of Winnie, both for her love of Bollywood movies – which offer all the traits I love so much about American romantic comedies – and for the way she navigates through it. its own romantic entanglements.
See, Winnie and author Nisha Sharma You understand. They get the allure of these slightly silly plots. They understand why these types of movies are still popular. They understand what they have to offer, both as a genre of film and as a lens to visualize your own struggles and triumphs.
When a clearly superior romantic choice, Dev gently teases Winnie for her love of Bollywood movies, she explains very succinctly and wonderfully exactly what this genre has to offer us –
“People love movies because of the romance, emotion and passion the characters feel. It’s easy to get carried away by the magic as long as you have a flexible suspension of disbelief.
Romance permeates every page of this book. It’s at the start of each chapter, which offers us a short review of a popular Bollywood movie. It’s in the idea of fate, soul mates, and prophecies, which are so intertwined in Winnie’s story and her romantic choices so far. It’s in the story stream itself, which has all of my favorite rom-com tropes, used in every way possible.
Honestly, I had to put the book down a few times with my hand over my heart because Nisha Sharma does romance so well. And it’s so wonderful every time to read a story about marginalized communities that doesn’t focus on the pain or the crisis, but rather keeps its characters through the very normal trials and tears of high school romance.
Plus, what Nisha Sharma understands so well – and what you understand best if you watch a lot of romantic movies – is that the best love stories can’t be all about romance. Love, romance, and relationships can’t exist in a vacuum – it’s neither realistic, nor healthy, nor even that interesting.
Instead, the best love stories, like the best real love stories, are those that are less about romance and more about growth, both as an individual and as a couple. And that growth can only happen if you have complex characters who challenge each other and go through difficult situations, who have a loving support system to help facilitate that growth.
Lucky for her – and for us who read her story – Winnie Mehta has all of this in her life, which makes reading her trip a sheer joy. She has a loving best friend, Bridget, who supports her but keeps her grounded. She has an ex who’s not just a one-note villain, but someone she has a long history with and loves outside of romance. She has a love turned boyfriend that she cares about, but also has to learn to support and compromise.
Last but not least, she has two fantastic parents who support her, love her unconditionally and hold her responsible.
And it’s this very latest side of the story – his parents – that really uplifts the novel from being good to one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.
“Oh, don’t give me that American ‘but mom’ attitude. You are Indian. You are facing this drama. It’s in your dhadkan, your heartbeat.
As a child of immigrants, I always enjoy reading YA novels that highlight the sometimes frustrating, often complicated, but almost always loving relationship between immigrant parents and their children. I think these relationships are important to highlight in YA Lit, and I’m so grateful every time I see a YA novel portraying these experiences.
What I loved so much about this particular novel – and what I found so refreshing – was how much support Winnie’s parents and grandmother gave her. Yes, they tried to push her towards Raj more than necessary, and they were a bit bossy the way all parents – but immigrant parents in particular – often seem to be.
But, in the end, her parents have always supported her – not just in her love life, but in her personal life. Far from micromanaging her or dictating her every personal and professional move, they instead gave her both the freedom and the support to pursue her. own dreams and make him own decisions, even if they didn’t necessarily agree with them or didn’t like them.
It’s a relationship between immigrant parents and their children that we don’t always see in the media, but desperately needed. Because yes, many immigrant parent-child relationships are strained and difficult, and this deserves to be shown – but the same is true of those with decidedly less difficult struggles.
This is the experience I had with my own parents, who I’m sure would have preferred me to study law or medicine, but who also applauded when I graduated. in education. It is an experience that so many immigrant readers have with their own parents, and I am happy to see it presented here with so much love and honesty.
“I knew that one day I was going to have a daughter who would do all of this better than I ever could.”
” How did you know ? ”
“I followed my heart.
The above quote comes towards the end of the book, when Winnie asks his father if he regrets making certain decisions in his life because of the influence of others.
Her answer not only made me cry a thousand tears, it also summed up so much of what I loved about this story. It underscores, once again, the unconditional love and support of Winnie’s parents – their belief in their daughter and her choices, their understanding of what she is capable of accomplishing.
It also sums up the theme of the story and what Winnie needed to learn – that the endless debate over fate, prophecies, and soul mates means nothing if you don’t know how to both listen to your heart and follow along. where it takes you.
that of Nisha Sharma My so-called Bollywood life is a mind-boggling, breathtaking romance and well-being story that should absolutely be in your hands as soon as possible.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch any Shah Rukh Khan Bollywood movies I can get my hands on.
My so-called Bollywood life by Nisha Sharma is available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads ‘must read’ list!