Rishi Vohra made a brilliant debut with Once Upon the Tracks Of Mumbai, story of an autistic guy finding himself and helping others in the mad world of Mumbai. HiFi in Bollywood, yet again based in Mumbai, is a story surrounding Bollywood and a guy’s aspirations about making it big in it.
Rayhan Arora was the son of an autocratic father, Romesh Arora, who believed in taking all life decisions of his children because he always ‘wished good for his children.’ Habituated of being in command and obeyed, he sent Rayhan to Berkeley, US, for higher studies and a better life. He also fixed an alliance with his NRI friend’s daughter without even consulting Rayhan once.
Rayhan had enough of it and was not going to succumb to his father’s orders all his life. Although he had forcibly studied Finance, which wasn’t his cup of tea, he always harbored the dream of returning to India and making it big in Bollywood. Unfortunately, his father loathed the ‘inconsistent’ industry and was strictly against it. The NRI girl, Vanita’s ready consent for the alliance made it all the more worse for Rayhan.
He had no other option but to lie to his father and Vanita and run away to Mumbai to pursue his dream. And he does so with the help of his contacts both in Berkeley and in Mumbai. The same contacts also help him land the job of Assistant Director in one of the country’s biggest directors’ upcoming movie starring a budding star Jahaan Khan and a super-successful actress Tarini.
Rest of the story is all about the roller-coaster ride of Rayhan in Bollywood in particular and Mumbai in general, his tryst with destiny about hiding the fact from his father and Romesh’s friends, his encounters with the local goons, politicians and police officials and finally his tryst with love.
Once again, Bombay/Mumbai is vividly described in his writings. The lifestyles and the way people talk and behave in different parts of the city is something to marvel about. And how different parts of the city has transformed differently with people of different cultures and lifestyles residing in different parts of the city and giving you a feel that you’ve actually come to a different city while you have just traveled a few kilometers within the Mumbai city.
The writing is simple and lucid egging the reader to continue reading. The characters are so nicely crafted that they are instantly likable. While the story revolves around Rayhan, the ‘supporting’ cast is well developed as well. Be it his friend Dave to homosexual cousin Jay to Romesh and his friends to Saajan, the ace director, to tantrum-throwing Jahaan Khan to sincere Tarini to Rayhan’s womanizer-friend Romil to Peterbhai, the local goon to his maid Laxmibai and her daughter Mangala to her lover Anil Dhamle.
The tone of the novel is light and monotonous and some scenes are really hilarious making the reader laugh. It would have been better if the love-angle of Rayhan was given more depth and if the protagonists spent some more time together. While the remaining novel moved on in a patient and unhurried pace, it felt as if the whole love chapter had been rushed through.
Also, the book gives a vivid glimpse of the inner working of the movie-world that is cherished by almost everyone in the country. From the number of people involved in taking a single shot to the starry tantrums to ego-tussles to stress and hardship faced by junior artists and beginners and how hard the ‘spot boys’ work helping everyone on the sets.
The novel, as expected, has a happy ending with a cliched and expected twist bringing in the climax.
Makes up for a nice read.
Connect with the author here : Rishi Vohra