My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma // Book Review

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So, I have to say that this isn’t my first foray into a contemporary YA with a Bollywood twist. Let’s just say it didn’t end well and I still consider When Dimple Met Rashi unbelievably cringy. Maybe if you want to advocate for women’s rights, don’t put down other women’s decisions as if you were the official authority of ‘strong female-dom’.

But enough of that because I want to sing praises to My So-Called Bollywood Life. This was a fun story about destiny and soulmates with an insightful message. Winnie has been living her life with the assumption that she’s set up for success. She’s already found her soulmate and getting into NYU is a guarantee as co-captain of her film club. Yet, when her boyfriend Raj cheats on her and a new club faculty advisor threatens to make her resume less impressive, her future is in jepardy.

While the ending is predicitable, it doesn’t diminish the book’s commentary about free will. Knowing that your life has a purpose comforts some if all it takes is following the devine plan. Or it can piss others off that no matter what they do, it won’t change the outcome. I think that Winnie’s journey strikes a delicate balance that shows anything is possible as long as you will it.

On a side not, I totally appreciate Winnie as a character because when you proclaim something is your passion, I want you to convince me. For Winnie it is, of course, Bollywood films. This is not a means of gatekeeping as I believe that anyone is allowed to like whatever they want to any extent. However, if your character likes film, is it wrong of me to expect them to know technical terms or a myraid of titles outside of superfical name dropping. I want to understand why it’s significant to their individuality. In romance, that can be forgotten in favor of petty fights with exes or the ‘overwhelming sexual tension’.

The only gripe I have with this book is that it may have restricted itself too ridgedly to the YA canon. There’s a jelous girlfriend whose role is overblown to hyperbolic status in order to justify all the hate coming her way. We don’t really see what her relationship was like to get a greater sense of the why behind her actions. Other than that, it’s a solid summer read.

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I love the graphic illustration bringing motion to the cover. I’m assuming this is Winnie and it accurately represents the tone + character. It was a good to put a stroke to the letters and a light drop shadow to distinguish the title. While the color palette is energetic, it also too closely reminds me of comic books which doesn’t really tie in with the story. I just wish that the background was patterned to emphasize the excess of Bollywood vibes.

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