Blonde Meets Bollywood

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Bollywood Becomes Her by Meredith McGuireMeg who would prefer to be known as Meghna has an identity problem. Despite being the blonde, all-American girl, she wants to be an Indian film heroine. Her life revolves round Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and other classic Bollywood blockbusters and it is her greatest ambition to stick a bindi on her forehead since it will press on her third eye and fill her life with enlightenment. Meg, despite graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University, has watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai 18 times and is probably Lovely Lovely Video’s most loyal customer.

At a loss for what to do next – she had a bash at writing a bodice ripper called The Maharajah’s Kiss which was returned in a domino fall of rejection letters – she returns to her parents’ home and wonders how she can possibly fly to Mumbai and make it Bollywood. Her blonde looks, she is convinced, will condemn her to a life as an eternal extra like some Swiss girl she once saw in a Bollywood film. Her parents are hopeful that she will join the FBI, if nothing else, because she speaks fluent Hindi, as a result of a trip to Jaipur. And there’s her sister Sue who spends her days mysteriously hidden in the depths of her room.

Currently Bollywood is very fashionable in the West after the world has realized how many people watch these seemingly insane films. There is a breed of star struck firangis who set up camp in Mumbai, including Chris Patten’s daughter who acted in the Aamir Khan starrer, Rang De Basanti. But this is not a story about a blonde bombshell like Jessica Hines following Amitabh Bachchan around and waiting for his pronouncements, half in love and half in hero worship. It is certainly a tale of how chic lit gets transformed when it meets Bollywood.

Sitting at home, Meg mourns her fate. Her sister will never call her ‘didi’ as the loyal Indian sister did in Laga Chunari Mein Daag, her mother isn’t anything like Simran’s in DDLJ and the less said about her Hershey’s munching father, the better. What Mc Guire presents us with is a typical clash of stereotypes, Indian values coming against dysfunctional American ones – except that in this case it’s American versus American or, one occasion Indianised American versus Americanised Indian.

To escape from boredom and perhaps find her path to Bollywood, Meg enlists in a Hindi class and meets the handsome Raj who is her professor. The moment she sees him, her heart starts beating. He is her ideal hero, looks like Akshay and seems to have come straight out of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In order to be perfect for him, she transforms herself into a cross between Aditi in Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na and Geet in Jab We Met, with fairly disastrous results.

Add to that the fact that Raj keeps tapes of Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga in his car and finds Meg’s attempts to conform to Indian adarsh beti ideals peculiar – especially when she tries to touch his mother’s feet dressed in a polyester sari. Raj is, in fact, McGuire’s take on the typical NRI Indian who is more Westernised that the Westerners, a man with no time for his own culture and with few scruples where making headlines is concerned. Just when it looks like an unhappy ending, the blonde Dev sweeps into Meghna-Meg’s life and turns out to be Lovely Lovely Video’s heir with the blondeness streaked in with peroxide. Despite his Americanised exterior, Dev drinks SRK endorsed Pepsi and watches Jackie Shroff films, unlike Raj who prefers Jackie Chan. He also calls Meghna Kinki-ji.

In the end, as in the best Bollywood comedies, it all works out fine, never mind the fact that there are no item songs to set your heart going dhak dhak. Meg-Meghna realizes that despite the fact that Bollywood overstates to the backteeth, it is a lesson in being human. Hindi films teach you how to be good and how to love your parents – never mind the fact that your sister is a phone sex operator in her spare time!

It will come as no surprise that this engagingly eccentric book is written by someone who runs the online forum BollyWHAT?: The Guide for Clueless Fans of Hindi Film, in between conducting anthropology studies in Chicago. As to the rest, despite the slow start, this would probably make a good Bollywood-Hollywood cross over film, if someone had the courage to do it.

Bollywood Becomes Her by Meredith Mcguire
Publisher: Westland Limited

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Buy book online
Buy book online Buy book online
Bollywood Becomes Her
by Meredith Mcguire

One Comment on "Blonde Meets Bollywood"

  1. Amy
    17/06/2010 at 16:13 Permalink

    I have to admit to never watching a full Bollywood movie, but I love them! This sounds like a hilarious little read.

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Written by Anjana Basu
Anjana Basu

Anjana Basu works as an advertising consultant in Calcutta. In 2003, Harper Collins India brought out her novel Curses In Ivory. In 2004, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland where she worked on her second novel, Black Tongue, published by Roli in 2007. In February 2010. her children's novel Chinku and the Wolfboy was brought out by Roli. She writes features for travel magazines and reviews for Indian newspapers.

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