Tuesday, 11 September 2018

ARC Review of My So-Called Bollywood Life

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
Published 15 May 2018 
Published by Crown BFYR

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all of the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted. 

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek, and one of the few people Winnie can count on to help her reclaim control of her story. Dev is smart charming, and challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope to find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy, and her chance to live happily ever after? To get her Bollywood-like life on track, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star. 

Like an expertly choreographed Bollywood dance scene, Nisha Sharma’s off-beat love story dazzles in the lime light.




I received a digital copy of My So-Called Bollywood Life from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The following review is comprised of my own opinions and mine alone. Although, any gifs, videos, and images are not my own because I have absolutely no talents in that department, whatsoever, credit goes to where credit is due.

When I saw that My So-Called Bollywood Life was available for request on NetGalley I took a chance and requested it because I really enjoy Bollywood films, I really wanted to see what a Bollywood book would be like. Readers. I wasn’t disappointed. I was given the colours, the drama, the music, and even the dancing that I fell in love with when I saw my first Bollywood movie at 16.

Our protagonist is Winnie Mehta who doesn’t simply dream of becoming a high profile film critic, she’s already set the wheels in motion to get herself there. She reviews movies on her blog, specifically Bollywood movies. She’s also co-president of her school’s film club and is co-chair of the film festival. She’s got her eye on a slot at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts – the school for her career goals.

We first meet our protagonist as she's digging a grave behind her house. Winnie broke into her now ex-boyfriend's house and stole all of her gifts back to bury them in a shallow grave. She's getting no judgement from me, I teamed up with my ex's brother (my best friend) and their cousin to take apart my cheating ex's truck engine one night after he cheated on me. This is the no judgement corner. By the way, both of these activities are actually illegal and you can be charged, so unless you’re willing to do the time, do not do the crime. No, really. Don’t do illegal things, most exes aren’t going to think it’s funny.

Winnie's a young Indian-American woman who’s got a plan for her life. Winnie's aims are set as high as she can, a coveted spot at the film school, NYU's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, and she's already on her way to becoming a high-profile film critic. She's the co-president of the Princeton Academy for the Arts and Sciences film club and the co-chair of the Princeton Academy Student Film Festival held at Princeton. And she just got back from her summer camp stay at NYU's film camp. Her speciality is Bollywood films and she eats, sleeps, and dreams Bollywood - especially old school Bollywood. But she's also a boy-crazy teenage girl at the same time. It drove/drives me crazy when my friends did/do it and it made me want to reach into the book and shake some sense into Winnie when her brain would turn to goo and she'd forget her plans and be all about either Dev or Raj. Just so much aargh there. And, unfortunately, the book does see Winnie obsessing more about Raj and Dev than about her getting into her dream school after this school year. She really needs to sort out her priorities.

Then we have Dev Khanna who is bound and determined to help Winnie get over Raj and he’s supportive of Winnie’s quest to disprove her prophecy. He’s a member of the film club with Winnie and Raj and spends his time making movies. Dev’s had a crush on Winnie since the beginning of high school and now that she’s single again, he wants a fair shot at love. He’s a bit of a mystery to Winnie in the beginning and, I think, that’s a big part of why she let him keep swooping in to the rescue. What I like about Dev is he seems to understand Winnie without her having to pull out an entire presentation to explain things to him.

While it is heavy with your typical love triangle teenage romance, the fact that we're given a Dummy's Guide to Bollywood in addition puts a new spin to the usual teenage romance we’ve all gotten used to. You get to experience a pooja (Hindu prayer group), and "Indian Shopping" as Winnie's best friend, Bridget, lovingly calls it, you get thrown into about a dozen different scenes straight out of some true Bollywood classics in Winnie’s dreams, and we also get a dance number, thus making this book a true Bollywood experience.

My So-Called Bollywood Life did have its moments where I wanted to throttle Winnie. She had times where she could act pretty childish and I just wanted to scream. She could treat Bridget better since they’re best friends, I mean, I met my best friend in eighth grade and we’ve done some pretty questionable, sometimes mildly illegal, things for each other. But Winnie actually is a bit of a brat and picks on Bridget at times. And Winnie also slut-shames Raj’s new girlfriend. Okay, we’ve all done it in the past, but it’s 2018 and we’re not okay with it anymore. Some of the plot twists are a bit predictable, I’m not spoiling things for you, but you’ll figure them out soon enough if you’re of a mind to read the book.

I enjoyed reading My So-Called Bollywood Life but everybody needs to be prepared for it to be exactly what it is. A classic Bollywood movie in book format, there will be cheese. It's not about a young woman who realises that she don't need no man to complete her and goes on to cure cancer or solve a murder or whatever else. It's a love triangle Bollywood romance brought into the 21st century, complete with an epic dance scene you'll never forget, teenage clothing montages, and gossiping aunties.

In the end, I’m giving My So-Called Bollywood Life 3 out of 5 stars because I did enjoy reading it, I will probably read it again, but it has some issues like any first book does. Give it a read if you’re looking for something different.



If you’re wondering what movie got me to fall in love with Bollywood style movies, it was Bride and Prejudice. I mean, it’s a pretty amazing adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and I killed my DVD of it. Bonus, it was produced by Gurinder Chadha, a producer Winnie idolises.
Here’s a YouTube clip of the Balle Balle scene that I'm obsessed with. 








Nisha Sharma grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, eighties pop culture, and romance novels, so it comes as no surprise that her first YA, My So-Called Bollywood Life features all three.

Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees, and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancey Drew. You can find her online on her website nisha-sharma.com or on  TwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.










That's all for now, darling readers. I've got a few more reviews in progress as I type this out, so it won't be long to the next entry. As always, be sure to find yourself a copy of My So-Called Bollywood Life, don't do drugs, if you're of a mind to donate to a good cause, please consider Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue. Until next time, my darling readers, have a happily ever after!