Bollywood is an industry that is so full of glitz and glam that it almost takes away the mystery that underlies its every move. It seems open because of social media and connectivity but the mystery still remains. It is more of the ‘who exactly is running this shindig’ sort of thing. Second, the rumors and the feuds. And rumors are always aplenty about how one person is always taking a dig at another and how they’re getting back at them. Revenge and drama are a huge part of the Hindi movie industry.
You Are A Star is a book that talks about a lot of things that Bollywood is “famous” for – the power games, the actual power behind the power bosses, the struggling newcomers, casting couch, the underworld, nepotism. It shows the beauty of struggling to come up, while also showing Bollywood’s gross underbelly.
A R Dara’s You Are A Star is set in the 90s, with Mr. Bajaj being the powerhouse that controls Bollywood. Nothing ever happens in the industry without his permission and his biggest rule is that corporates mustn’t enter the industry. But Khurana wants to bring in a corporate, Nixon Group, to invest in films, along with the CEO of the Group who is called CEO throughout the book. Mr. Bajaj sternly refuses and they plan to get back at Bajaj by making a movie with all newcomers and then assassinate the unsuspecting group.
These innocents have always looked upon Bollywood with stars in their eyes. But will they be able to escape this net that has been laid out for them and which they’re unknowingly setting foot in?
DEV: An aspiring actor whose father is a businessman who wants Dev to join the family business. But when Dev reveals to his father that his trip to the United States was to study Performing Arts and not for a business degree, his father kicks him out of the house and the business. Dev reaches Mumbai, stars in his eyes and hopes for the future. But Dev is used to comfort and luxury, and doesn’t adjust the life of struggle easily.
ANAND: A gold medalist who wants to get into writing movies. Innocent to the point of being inappropriate, Anand ends up asking questions that should not be asked. But he knows the importance of being open-minded towards struggle if one wanted to come up in life.
DOSS: Doss wants to be a writer and a director. He starts working as a sweeper at a production house, hoping that someday, he’d get a chance to showcase his talent and he’d finally find a foothold in the industry.
Somehow, these three end up living together and have to get through life till they get the opportunity to showcase their talents.
The other characters include:
REX: A local gangster who does quite a bit of good for his community. But he has ambitions of becoming big and improving his network.
TINA: An Anglo-Indian model who wants to become an actress. She is Rex’s love interest, but she gradually becomes closer to Dev.
KANI – A call-girl and Doss’s love interest. She doesn’t hold much sway over the storyline.
How the whole battle between Bajaj and Khurana and CEO affects these people who are just trying to make a name for themselves forms the rest of the story.
What I Liked About This Book:
This book is fast-paced like a typical, entertaining Bollywood masala film. There are plot twists that kept me turning the pages because I HAD to know what was happening. Sure, it was slow in a few pages but only because the author, in those pages is establishing the characters’ struggles.
Also, the interactions between the characters is very interesting to read! Here’s a quote that I loved, that Doss tells Dev, if I’m not mistaken:
To claim credit for success, first you need success. You can take anything for granted, but not success. Never think about the life after success in advance. It is foolish to think about events after success when you should channelize all your energy to move towards success.
If you worry about sharing credit with others for your success before you earn it, there is very little you can achieve in this world. It is not about claiming credit or self-glory. We don’t suffer all this pain for self-glory. It is about passion. It is about chasing our dream. No man in this world can achieve his passion without a good team and you must be willing to share your success with them. On your own, without a good team, you will never achieve your target and will never be able to follow your passion.
This book is a mix of two things:
- An encouragement to not give up, to keep following your dreams and adjust with your situation while following your dreams. Struggling not only means adjusting with the situation. It also means being aware enough to grab opportunities with both hands.
- It’s a cautionary tale. It tells you, though not in as many words, that you need to be very careful about where you place your next step.
It addresses a lot of issues:
- The disgusting practice of the casting couch. It is prevalent in the industry and one of the filthiest ones of all time. The author has written it matter-of-factly and it boiled my blood to no end because of how real it seemed.
- The struggles of newcomers to the industry. Bollywood talks about giving newcomers a chance, but it isn’t that easy and hundreds or maybe even thousands of people are still struggling to make their mark. Dev, Doss, and Anand are examples of those real-life strugglers!
- The underworld. However much we want to push this fact under the carpet, it is known that Bollywood and the underworld have had a long-standing “relationship”. It shouldn’t exist, but it does, and God forbid it takes over the world! Yikes!
- Power games. Rival production houses and even actors have always had camps in the industry. And while it doesn’t necessarily mean that either one of them is evil, this book shows that possibility when it pits Khurana against the well-meaning Mr. Bajaj.
- Almost all the characters, at one point or the other in the book show you how to stand up for one’s ideals, for what one thinks is right. Reading that somewhat warmed my heart and made me smile.
What I Didn’t Like About This Book:
There were a couple of things that I didn’t like about You Are A Star:
- The language could be crisper and a little more polished. It wasn’t bad but it could have been brought out much more beautifully. That would have made a lot of difference.
- Usage of a lot of phrases which seem inappropriate or unfair. For example, the Anglo-Indian community’s dialogue is filled with the F word, as if they use it in every sentence they speak. It could have been trimmed down a little to make for a better read.
I did enjoy reading this book and I’ll say that if you’re looking for a Bollywood masala story, this is a book that could be for you. It is entertaining and can accompany you on a bleak evening!
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Picture Courtesy: Amazon.com
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Here’s the link: You Are A Star by A R Dara