Farhad J. Dadyburjor has been into the field of journalism for about 14 years now and he currently works as a consulting editor. Going by his work, it isn’t surprising that his debut novel, How I Got Lucky, is completely based on fashion world, Bollywood, celebrities and their lifestyles in general.
Each and every book that I have read on Bollywood or fashion industry – and I must admit I haven’t ready many – have one thing in common. They all show the callous attitude of people, their insecurities, their selfishness, their obsession with themselves, the need to be secretive about their personal lives, about how fake they all are, how they can talk sweet-nothings to get their works done and how the relationships work, that is, as long as you are useful or beneficial to them, they know you and as soon as you cease to be of any use to them, you cease to be in their life altogether.
And, Farhad’s How I Got Lucky is no different.
There are so many stories and sub-stories running parallely in the novel which results in plethora of characters.
Raman Malhotra is a 35 years-old Junior Editor working with The Weekly who isn’t really happy with his job and wants to write articles on different things, like Bollywood. But his Senior Editor, Shaan, is a jealous bit*h and she won’t let that happen. Shaailaa, their boss who called all the shots at the office was the one who decided who worked in which department and nobody had seen the CEO of the paper, including the employees of the paper, except Shaailaa.
Ramola was a talented and successful photographer, with whom everybody wanted to get a photo-shoot done. She was famous for being nasty and over-powering, yet she was in demand. Although she had had various partners, most of them had been models and most of them had been women.
Savvy, a PR agent who would do anything to get her work done and she had the ability to turn even the nastiest of the articles printed in newspapers in her tide and get something positive coming out of it. She was a shallow woman who would pretend to be happy for you in front of you and then scheme your downfall behind your back.
Johnny was an upcoming model who was tired of chasing people from industry in search of work that he had turned to internet out of frustration. Here, he was his own god and he called all the shots. He was the superstar of internet and his clientele ranged from locals to managers to successful businessmen and sometimes even foreigners. They demanded very little of him but paid him handsomely and he didn’t mind doling out sexual favours in person, or on webcams, in return.
Then there was Lucky Star – not his true name – a rising star in Bollywood. His movies were lined up for releases, his travel show was about to be on air and he was becoming very very famous. Suddenly, he takes up an interest in Raman offering him an exclusive interview. Of course what follows are a series of interviews, gossips, internal tid-bits, lots of sex for them and finally a heart-break for Raman.
Apart from the above characters, Huma, Iptika (the lesbian couple and upcoming actresses) and Manjeet (an upcoming actor who cannot act but has the ‘right contacts’) are the ones whose characters have some sort of importance in the storyline and rest of the characters just seem to be coming and going from the story.
The story is simply about how these characters lead their lives, the problems they face, the jealous colleagues and the ego-tussles with them, the competition between the papers and the urgency to come up with an “exclusive interview” first, the insecure celebrities, the bitchy stars, the various relationships – lots of lesbian and gay sex – among these characters, the fake lives the celebrities live and the need to keep living those lives, the lives of common people, the lives of journalists, the created news that is reported daily as “Breaking News”, about how rumors can make or ruin an actor and his image, and the story is simply about everything related to Bollywood, fashion and entertainment industry.
Somehow, I was a bit disappointed with the climax. After getting humiliated so much, I half expected Raman to either resign or even better, change his profession altogether. But, he does neither and continues to work at the same office at the same position.
The writing is brilliant. The characters are believable. The storyline is gripping and the one, which we can instantly relate to. Once all the characters are introduced, we are immediately in the middle of the chaos, among all the characters; anxiously reading to see what’s in store for us. There is sarcasm, a lot of it, which inspire a chuckle every once in a while.
Every now and then, there are insights or tid-bits about life in Mumbai in general, the population, the pollution, the omnipresent hurry that every single individual of Mumbai is in to reach somewhere, the mundanity of it all, the local trains, the small houses, the expensiveness, the lifestyles etc.
Tid-bits about the life of a journalist, the work pressures, the anxiety attacks, the depression, work ethics, a profession where everyone is ready to slit your throat at any chance and how seniors don’t want/let their juniors to progress. About the news stories that they report, that they create, that they shove down our minds. About their love-hate relationships with celebrities and famous personalities related to entertainment industry etc.
There are also some unsolicited advises, some journo-rules, some life-rules, etc inserted every now and then.
How I Got Lucky is a book that would interest everyone who is in the industry or aspires to be in it someday, be it as a model, as an actor/actress, as a journalist, as a producer, as a PR agent or any damn thing related to entertainment industry.
Makes you realize the shit that you would have to deal with and more importantly, makes you realize the person that you’d transform into once you get there.
Also you, as a movie-viewer or as a fan of any actor/actress, would see the whole show-biz in a different light and even begin to partially hate it.
It also tells the same age-old adage, in show-biz, nobody is your friend and there are high chances that the one smiling at you and indulging in sweet-nothings at some party, may not even remember your name once he/she exits the party.
A racy, explosive and first-hand experience of the entertainment industry, which is scathing, detesting, humiliating and depressing, yet a very true account of it.