Bollywood is the Hindi language film industry, based in Mumbai India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; however, it is only a part of the large Indian film industry, which includes other production centres producing films in multiple languages.
While I have heard the term Bollywood, I couldn’t really give a definition for it. When the buzz on A Bollywood Affair starting overtaking Twitter, I thought this might be a unique and interesting book to read. Above is the definition of Bollywood.
Samir Rathod is the famous Bollywood playboy director. He is half white but raised in Mumbai by his father’s family. Until his surrogate mother escaped with him and his brother, Virat, he was abused, for being mixed blood, by their grandfather. He is utterly devoted to his brother and the woman who raised him so when his brother’s military plane goes down and he is asked to find the woman his brother married when they were mere babies, he does not hesitate. Virat has married someone else and they have a baby on the way. When it is learned their grandfather never filed the annulment papers, Samir goes to find the woman still married to his brother to ensure his niece or nephew is born to married parents. To find her, Samir must return to Michigan, the place he was born and raised and a place that holds memories he wants to forget.
Mili Rathod has traveled to Michigan to further her education. She rooms with a North Indian Punjabi girl who decides to run from her family with a man they would think unsuitable. When Samir shows up moments after the roommates runs off Mili assumes it is a family member and does what she can to escape the man. Unfortunately, she decides to jump out a window, ride a broken bike and crash into a tree. Samir is forced to rescue Mili and take care of her while she heals her injured ankle and wrist.
For several weeks the pair are forced together. Samir is there to have Mili sign the papers releasing his brother from the sham marriage but he finds that Mili has some sort of influence on him and he is able to write around her. He is so far behind on his recent screenplay that he reasons he can stay to take care of Mili, write some pages and then when she is better he will get her signature and return home. Mili is unable to do anything for herself and she welcomes the help of someone who knows her culture, food and can speak her language and dialect.
As the story progresses we see the conflict Samir has with keeping up the lie. He is having a hard time reconciling Mili with the person who filed papers against his injured brother’s estate. He knows at some point the truth will come out and there will be major fallout but he keeps pushing that time off. For her part, Mili feels a sort of attraction to Samir but she has also been steadfast to her missing husband and she will remain that way until the time he comes for her. Each of them buries their head in the sand as slowly the day of reckoning creeps closer to them.
As several people have mentioned, the book isn’t without its flaws. Mili is extremely passive and overlooks obvious clues as to who Samir is and what kind of person he seems to be. At one point, she defends him when a trashy magazine is found and he is the headline. Mili is very naïve and innocent but there were truths that stared her in the face and she refused to acknowledge them. Samir was using Mili to write his screenplay and she let it happen. Why she let is happen is a something for the reader to decide. Mili had spent her whole life waiting for her husband to come and her actions with Samir followed in that same vein. For a woman who had finally taken a hold of her life and done something, the way she reacted to Samir was almost like a step back.
Having said all that, Ms. Dev does an excellent job of explaining the culture and mindset of Mili and how she was raised. Her whole life was spent listening to her naani talk about her absent husband and how she must be ready for him. Mili is a devoted wife, even though she is truly not a wife. She does everything within her power to stay true to the boy she married at four years old. Her actions, though innocent and simple, speak of a powerful devotion to someone she would love.
Overall, I was enchanted by A Bollywood Affair. The book is based upon the hero deceiving the heroine for most of the story so the reader is simply holding their breath, waiting for the shoe to drop. That might sound like a negative thing, but it wasn’t. You just know the fallout is going to be epic but you cannot help tumble head over heels for this couple and what they are building. They both have strong reactions, feelings, ties to their families and the people they love. A Bollywood Affair offers great characters, a glimpse into a culture I was not familiar with and a wonderful love story. If you decide to read it, I think you won’t be disappointed. Final grade- B+
“What’s wrong with this? You told me to wear something casual for the henna ceremony. So, I wore casual.”
“I said casual, not Chandni-Chowk-whore slutty! Brainless daughter of an oaf.”