My So-Called Bollywood Life NPR coverage of My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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My So-Called Bollywood Life

by Nisha Sharma

Hardcover, 296 pages, Crown Books for Young Readers, List Price: $17.99 |

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My So-Called Bollywood Life
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Nisha Sharma

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NPR Summary

Staying loyal to her boyfriend in spite of her reservations because of an astrologer's prediction only to discover that he has fallen for someone else, Winnie Mehta considers the advice of a friend and fellow film enthusiast, Dev, who encourages her to look beyond her horoscope and find someone who makes her happy.

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Excerpt: My So-Called Bollywood Life

From Winnie Mehta’s Bollywood Review Blog:

 

QUEEN

  

Kangana Ranaut’s blockbuster included all the elements needed to create a money-making masterpiece: a strong woman, a stupid man, and tons of girl power.

 

According to Google, a grave was supposed to be six feet deep, but Winnie Mehta didn’t want to put that much effort into digging. Besides, it wasn’t as if she was dumping an actual body or anything.

 

She stopped and surveyed the burial site she’d chosen in the woods behind her house. After dragging three boxes and a shovel up the hiking path, Winnie had already built up a layer of sweat, but she had a lot to do before she could go home.

 

As she marked the hole, her phone began vibrating in her pocket. She sent the call to voice mail when she saw her best friend’s face flash across the screen. That was Bridget’s seventh call in the last hour. Winnie wanted--no, needed--this moment, in which she stuck it to her stupid destiny, the wasted years she believed in true love, and, most importantly, to Raj, her cheating ex who’d hooked up with someone else while she was away at film camp. There was nothing Bridget could say that would change her mind.

 

It had been two months since Winnie had told Raj they needed a “break,” which wasn’t the same thing as a “breakup.” And even if they had broken up, a relationship blossoming from a childhood romance that became official when they were fourteen deserved more than three weeks of mourning before one party moved on to someone else. Even celebrities waited longer than that.

 

The thought caused her hands to tighten on her shovel. She rolled her shoulders, and with a warrior’s grunt, she started digging.

 

Stupid love story, stupid prophecy, stupid everything, she thought as she scooped up heaps of thick black soil. Since she was a kid, her family’s astrologer had predicted that Winnie’s soul mate would meet three unique criteria: his name would start with an R, he’d give her a silver bracelet as a sign of his love, and he’d cross paths with Winnie before her eighteenth birthday.

 

Identifying Raj as the man of her dreams wasn’t too farfetched, since they went to the same school and had grown up in the same community. Not to mention, he’d pulled out all the stops to get her to notice him when they were freshmen. For Winnie, accepting her destiny as truth and believing that her high school boyfriend was her soul mate for life was as easy as rattling off the top ten grossing Bollywood films per decade.

 

But then Raj changed. A lot. Three years later he wasn’t her hipster in shining armor anymore. He’d traded in his collection of graphic T-shirts for polos and his love of movie nights for the tennis team and STEM club.

 

She felt her chest constrict and her heart pound from the exercise and from remembering that moment when Raj had told her he wanted to go to school in Boston instead of New York. He’d followed that truth bomb by asking her to give up her dreams and move to Boston, too.

 

“Winnie! Winnie, are you out here?” Bridget’s voice echoed through the rustling trees and the sound of chirping birds. “I saw the drag marks from your car and across your backyard.”

 

“Shit,” she muttered. She started digging a little faster, tossing dirt in every direction.

 

“Okay, this is nuts,” Bridget yelled. “Where the hell are you?”

 

Winnie tried to block the sounds of branches snapping as she continued to create her movie grave. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bridget step into the clearing. Her blond hair was tied in a high ponytail, and her shorts and tank were streaked with dirt, as if she’d wrestled her way through the rain forest instead of a small wooded area in Princeton, New Jersey.

 

“Oh. My. God,” Bridget said as she pointed to the boxes. “Are those Raj’s movies? You can’t be serious! I get that I should’ve told you before you got back from camp this morning. It’s just that I wanted to talk to you about this whole thing in person. I know it’s a huge betrayal--”

 

“That’s one way to put it.”

 

“And you’re probably pissed--”

 

Winnie froze. “ ‘Probably pissed’? Are you freakin’ kidding me?” She tossed the shovel to the ground and faced her friend. “No, I’d probably be pissed if I got a B in film class this year. I’d probably be pissed if I gained ten pounds and couldn’t fit into my prom dress. I’m murderous right now because my boyfriend broke up with me online while basically announcing that he cheated! Did you know that he even wrote a Facebook post? My parents and their friends are the only ones who check Facebook. It’s humiliating when your mother tells you that she saw the news on her feed. There are more people throwing me a pity party than extras in the movie Gandhi.”

 

Bridget put up her hands in surrender. “I totally didn’t know he was going to do that, but to be fair, I did warn you that he was hanging out with Jenny Dickens.”

 

The second she heard Jenny’s name, Winnie hocked a loogie. Well, she tried, but she ended up choking and coughing on her own spit.

 

“What the hell was that?”

 

“I can’t hear that man-stealing backstabber’s name without spitting,” Winnie said, pressing a fist to her chest. “It’s a demonstration of how I feel about her.”

 

Bridget snorted. “What movie did you see that one in?”

 

“It’s not funny, Bridget! Damn it, it wasn’t supposed to end like this.” To her horror, tears started to fill her eyes.

 

“Oh crap,” Bridget said, and scrambled forward. The second Winnie felt her friend’s tight hug, a sob broke through her throat. Then another followed, and another, until she couldn’t stop.

 

Bridget held her while she cried for the first time since she’d realized her love story was finally over. Memories circled in her mind like vultures. First kiss, themed dates, Bollywood marathons, film festivals, passionate arguments over movies. She knew that Raj believed in her prophecy because of all the effort that he’d invested in their relationship. Just when she’d started thinking that maybe Raj really was the answer to her family astrologer’s prediction for a happily-ever-after, he changed. Now their relationship was a short caption in a yearbook. They were the cliché high school romance.

 

What a joke.