My So-Called Bollywood Life

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 3 May 2019

Member Reviews

Such a joyous story that has made me want to immediately go out and watch as many Bollywood films as possible. Really lovely, enjoyable read.
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"My So-Called Bollywood Life" is a cute romance story with a fun protagonist. I liked the story overall and the protagonist and her family were really funny and I liked learning more about Bollywood and Indian culture, but the ending and the final conflict between the protagonist and her friends felt rather rushed and forced to me.
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Bollywood movie has always been my favourite to watch. 3 hours long? That ain't a problem to me. So, when I saw a book title My So-Called Bollywood Life on NetGalley I couldn't resist myself to request it and I have this high expectation for this book. 

I love the premise in this book, the characters are okay and how the author uses the title of Bollywood movie as a reference even some I have not yet watched it makes me Google it right away. Another thing that makes this book more interesting was when they met the astrologers ask about their prophecies of their life especially their marriage and their family has their own 'pandit' that helped them about what they need to know.

Even though I am so into the stories, looking wanting to know what happened next, I was disappointed by how the story to me keep on over and over again revolving around whether or not she makes the best decision on breaking up with Raj and another is when the MC keep on referencing her love life to the Bollywood movie which was a bit weird and annoyed me.

Overall, to me it is an okay read. I like the whole premise but it was a bit flat when I get into the story. Maybe it is only me that felt this way and it work for someone else.

3 stars out of 5 stars
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DNF. I just found it cringey and awkward to read. The poor formatting of the eARC didn't help, as it was misleading and confusing. I just didn't like this.
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Really sweet book, loved the themes and characters. Always keen to read more diverse YA. Review to come on my blog soon
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3 Stars. 

"I accepted Pandit Ohmi's prediciton as truth for so long that I have no idea what I want instead of what I've been told I should want." 

I had high-hopes for My So-Called Bollywood Life; the book had been on my to-buy list since it was announced and I thought, "Finally! A book that shares my love for Hindi cinema!" . I've been aching for a relatable, light-hearted romcom with Indian leads. I've wanted a book with funny quips and references to Hindi movies and characters that I can relate to. Something that reflects my own upbringing. I was hoping for a lead character who is a film student like me; someone who gets mad when people call Hindi movies 'Bollywood movies' like me; someone with a stupidly unhealthy obsession with samosas and chaa and aloo bhujia like me . 

My So-Called Bollywood Life did have many moments I could relate to; the gossiping aunties who know everyone's business, the 'chai fixes all problems' law that every desi parent seems to live by, holding pooja's to ward off the evil eye (amongst other reasons). 

I connected to Winnie and her dad's relationship because just like Winnie, my dad is responsible for my love for Hindi films. We have regular movie nights and trips to the local cinema where we watch the latest Hindi movie and discuss our shared hatred for Karan Johar movies. 

Funnily enough, like Winnie, my life is also being decided by my own janampatri. Thankfully, my own birthchart doesn't say anything about love or silly boys but I understand Winnie's dilemma with following her destiny. When your parents believe in that destiny as your set future, you feel obliged to go along with it. 

The scenes with Winnie's Nani and with Dev were the strongest scenes in the book and they were the two relationships I liked the most. Nani was a funny character with pearls of wisdom and Dev was a very likable love-interest. The little reviews at the beginning of each chapter was also a cute addition - even if I disagree with most of the ratings. 

The book was far from perfect though. The main issue I had was with the plot. It was predictable and almost every situation could've been avoided if Winnie had just stopped talking to her ex. It was obvious who Winnie was going to choose from the very beginning. Dev's name beginning with R was really not that surprising 
 a plot point either.

Winnie wasn't a very likeable protagonist. She had a few shining moments but for most of the time, I was either indifferent or irritated towards her. Her voice was much younger than her age - she sounded more like a 14 year old. She was just so cynical and pessimistic about everything. She was at her worst during those last few chapters when she wouldn't listen to reason and was mad at everyone . I wanted to just shake her by the shoulders and tell her to listen to Dev.

For a character who was a strong, independent woman she spent all of the book talking about boys. Her only female friend was Bridget and every conversation they had was about boys: either about Dev or Raj or Bridget's boyfriend. Every side character was nothing more than just a name on the page - I can't remember any of them because they didn't serve any purpose or have their own personalities or characteristics.

Another thing I had an issue was with everyone's expectations that Winnie should sacrifice her career and education for a boy. The reason she was on a break with Raj at the beginning of the book was because he expected Winnie to drop her interest in film studies and go to the same university as him. Yet, towards the end of the book, it's expected for Winnie to give up the film festival - something that would confirm her place at her dream university - for Dev. This is the reason why I ended up rating the book a star lower than I would've liked - I just had difficulty to agreeing with something like this.

Verdict: 

My So-Called Bollywood Life was a difficult book for me to rate. I loved how relatable Winnie's family was and the aspects of Indian culture that reflect my own upbriging and life. But the book plot was almost unbearable and I had a hard time enjoying it without rolling my eyes every two minutes. Perhaps if I had read this a few years earlier or perhaps if I wasn't so critical of ya contemporary, then I would've enjoyed it more.

I think if you are a fan of Sandhya Menon, or want a quick-paced summer read, or love terrible masala movies, then My So-Called Bollywood Life may be worth a shot. This book is a Dilwale (2015), not a Jab We Met (2007).
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This is a fun, fast-paced, emotional read that I fell into straight away. I absolutely loved Winnie and how addicted to Bollywood films she is. I adored watching as she tried to make sense of her life, continuously returning to films to understand her path and the journey she felt she needed to take. This book was wonderful and one that I will definitely be going back to time and time again!

I loved Dev. And how he came into the story. I also really loved Bridget and Henry. I especially loved how it showed how strong a friendship Winnie and Bridget had. I loved the Bollywood film reviews at the start of each chapter, a small snippet of what was to come. I haven't watched any of the film's but I definitely want to now! I also loved how much of her culture was brought to life in this book. A truly brilliant #ownvoices book that I adored. I highly recommend it, especially if you love Sandhya Menon's books.
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This was such a cute book to read. It’s a rom-com that follows Winnie an Indian-American teen who is obsessed with Bollywood movie and dreams of becoming a film critic. However, Winnie’s life becomes complicated when she breaks up with her long term boyfriend Raj, who her whole family believes to be her soulmate as predicted from her star chart at her birth, and she starts to gain feelings for Dev a boy in her film group. I really liked Winnie as a character and the romance between her and Dev was adorable. I also loved learning more about Indian culture which this book is filled with.

I gave this 3 out of 5 stars.
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**I was provided with an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

This basically felt like a modern day Bollywood rom-com in book form! 

My So-Called Bollywood Life stars Vaneeta “Winnie” Mehta who is pretty much the living embodiment of the word filmi. She walks, talks, breathes and even dreams Bollywood. With the aspiration of one day becoming a film critic, Winnie refuses to let her foretold destiny define her. 

It is full of cheesy romance, desi culture and even includes Shah Rukh Khan dream cameos!! There is a love triangle/star crossed lover element but it jumps away from usual to give an overall fun and feel-good read.

The Bollywood film references had me smiling throughout, and the snippets of Winnie’s Bollywood film reviews at the start of each chapter (along with Sharma’s full list of recommendations at the end of the book) was a nice touch.
Final Rating – 3.75/5 Stars
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3.5-4 stars

I really enjoyed reading Winnie's story and she was a lot of fun as a character (also loved her friendship with Bridget, and her relationship with her parents & grandmother - I always love reading about good family relationships). Also really loved that Winnie had this passion for film and Bollywood an the prophecy added a really unique element to the story. The romance was sweet and believable (I have to say though, I didn't think it was THAT scandalous of Winnie to, in theory, choose NYU over her new boyfriend?! She'd been with him a few minutes practically and wanted to go to that dream university her entire life? Kind of weird that she was shamed into feeling that was wrong.)
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First up we have My So-Called Bollywood Life and it was a young adult read in a run of them. It did mean I was a little harsher on this book than I might have been otherwise. That being said, I did really enjoy it and thinking back on it I am so impressed by it and am glad I read it. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a lighter romance read which will probably make you want to watch a Bollywood film (or five).

When you start this book it's with Winnie breaking into her ex-boyfriend’s house to steal back everything she had given to him after he cheated when they were on a break (yes, all I thought of was friends when I read that) and from that first moment, I knew I liked her. She was not shy or retiring, she was strong and she knew her mind. Raj seemed like the boy she was meant to fall in love with but he did so much wrong and she knew he wasn’t, no matter what others might think. But her family believes in the prediction from her family pandit since he got so much else right. So this is very much about family expectations and making your own destiny and I was cheering Winnie on to make her own choices because Raj sounded like he did not get her at all.

I loved that the whole book was filled with Bollywood references and films considering the book title. It was obvious many a Bollywood film was watched in the writing of this book and I was tempted to compile a list of some to watch given I'm a complete newbie to Bollywood films. I got Winnie's passion for Bollywood films and films in general. Not everyone can make reference to some of their favourite Bollywood films and follow it up with references to Pride & Prejudice or Never Been Kissed. It was little things like that which helped show the character of Winnie was well-written to show she wasn't some Bollywood fangirl (she was) but someone who was serious about film as a whole and willing to learn and watch everything in her quest to pursue her passion. It was that which made me so very frustrated by the character of Raj. He continually brushed off Winnie’s love of film and dreams of being a film critic as impractical but anyone who listened to her talk about films would have been blind to not see her dedication to it. I think that's why I was so pleased she continually turned Raj down when he kept trying to get back with her. As soon as someone is unwilling to support your dreams you have to cut them loose as they don't want the best for you.

And Dev! Now that boy was adorable. He was exactly right for Winnie. He challenged her but never held her back. He tried to get her to think of new things and wanted to help her move forward not to hold her back or change her. I loved seeing them together as they went through meeting each others family and got to know each other. I was sad when the inevitable separation happened as drama came to keep them apart but it made the ending all the more rewarding. But the separation portion of this book bothered me. I got why Winnie was annoyed, and I got why Dev was angry too, but I felt like the massive deal that was made out of the whole situation just to be able to have the dramatic reunion at the end. I knew it was going to happen but it just felt a little much. More talking was needed I think, but it’s a minor grumble.

I loved how involved Winnie’s parents and family was in her life as well. Her parents were so cute both scolding her and telling her to follow rules and be good but always pushing her to pursue her dream as well. I think because I've read a lot of books where parents are trying to force their kids to do something they don't want to do, especially in YA because the 'my parents don't understand me' trope is strong that seeing supportive parents was exciting to see.

I really enjoyed this book and it was such an easy read. I'm sad I kept comparing it to other books I read because honestly, it was really good and definitely one I think others should read too as it's better than at least 50% of contemporary YA books I've read. And it was fun.
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I found this difficult to connect with, I’m sure lots of people will love it but just wasn’t for me. I thought the writing style was great and that kept me going, but I didn’t like the main character enough and I think that’s why I struggled 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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My So-Called Bollywood Life is a young adult novel written by Nisha Sharma. I was kindly sent a copy to review via Netgalley. All views are my own. 

Trigger warnings: ableist/sanist language, aromisia, fat-shaming 

I read My So-Called Bollywood Life for the 2019 edition of the Asian Lit Bingo! It fulfilled the prompts for South Asian main character, contemporary with an Asian main character, and religious Asian main character. 

This was a really cute read. At its core, this is a fluffy romance between Winnie, a Bollywood lover, and her classmate Dev. The entire story is framed by Bollywood, from the actors (one particular actor makes almost nightly appearances in Winnie's dreams!) to tropes such as star-crossed lovers and love triangles. I admit, I don't have much knowledge about Bollywood films. The most I've seen are short snippets from visiting my British-Indian fiancee's grandmother. What I do know is that they are generally considered over-the-top, sometimes predictable, and a whole lot of fun. And that's exactly what this novel is! 

“As much as I love Bollywood damsels in distress, I don’t need saving. I’m my own hero.”

I really enjoyed the way that this novel explored themes of destiny and fate. Winnie tries very hard to ensure that she is the author of her own destiny, which was pretty cool. It was really interesting to learn about pandits and prophecies, as well as a bit about Winnie's culture and religion. She is Hindu, and in the course of the novel she participates in a pooja (also spelled puja). According to the Internet, this is: 

"...the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. During puja an image or other symbol of the god serves as a means of gaining access to the divine. This icon is not the deity itself; rather, it is believed to be filled with the deity's cosmic energy. It is a focal point for honoring and communicating with the god."

I'd never heard of these before, and it led me to some interesting research about Hinduism. There is also some use of Hindi in the novel, which was pretty cool. 

However, there were a couple of things that really bothered me about this book. Firstly, it contained a lot of girl-hate. The antagonist of the novel was a girl called Jenny, who is over-the-top nasty and assumes that Winnie will want to compete over her ex-boyfriend Raj. I felt like she could have been a really interesting character, but she felt very one-dimensional in comparison to the other characters. 

As well, it was very much implied that Winnie would have to choose between her romance with Dev and her career. Obviously she didn't have to in the end, because it was a rom-com, but I really didn't like it that many of the characters (including her own family) say that she needs to give up her role in her film club (which will help with her NYU application) for Dev. Like! No, girl! 

Overall, this book was a fun romance, but there were some areas that I thought could have been improved, especially in terms of Winnie potentially sacrificing her future at NYU for a boy.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma. I've read and reviewed this copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Winnie is a Bollywood film fanatic who has been told, since she can remember, that she will find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, that his name will start with an R and that he will gift her with a silver bracelet. When her boyfriend, who matches all the criteria, breaks up with her, Winnie tries to take control of her future. With the help of Dev, a fellow film fanatic, Winnie tries to look beyond her family's prophecy to find her happy ending. 

My So-Called Bollywood Life is a witty, fun and heartwarming story about a girl who tries to make her future her own. Once you start this book, you won't be able to put it down. The premise of the story is like a literal Bollywood movie and delivers on all fronts. Short Bollywood movie reviews at the beginning of each chapter, a sea of movie references and amazing dream sequences with a Bollywood moviestar. What more could you want?

Nisha Sharma's writing is fast-paced, endearing and full of witty remarks. If you enjoy a fun romantic read then you should definitely read My So-Called Bollywood Life.
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Sometimes, a book is cute, and you know it’s cute, you love the characters and all, but you still don’t quite love it. And that was pretty much the case for me with My So-Called Bollywood Life. All bar one of the problems I had are wholly personal, so if you’re sceptical about reading it, and you read this review, give it a go! Try it out! Ignore me!

Okay.

My So-Called Bollywood Life introduces us to Winnie, a high school student who has just broken up with her boyfriend, Raj, after he cheated on her. The only problem is, when Winnie was born, she received a prophecy which said that the name of her true love would begin with R, and he would give her a silver bracelet. And Raj fits the bill. So, she’s understandably a bit peeved when, having asked for them to take a break over the summer, she finds out online that he’s got himself a new girlfriend. Except she still has to work with him organising a film festival and running the film club.

I’m going to start with what I liked, which was the characters! Winnie was a great protagonist and I loved her (even if occasionally I was a bit confused by her motivations, but like. She’s 17. I get it). Her and Dev were sweet together (though could have been more slowburn maybe. Nitpicking, yes), and her family was the absolute best. And while I never really liked Raj at all, he was still a good character.

But going outside of the people who Winnie liked, there are some characters who get a bit hard done by. And by that, I mean there’s a lot of girl-hating going on. In particular, about Jenny, Raj’s new girlfriend (who, I admit, is not a character I liked, but I feel she got the short end of the stick in some instances). Now Jenny, for reasons unbeknownst to us, hates Winnie. “Reasons unbeknownst”, or, because Raj is a dickhead. A little spoilery here, but he realises he “made a mistake” and wants Winnie back. But does he break up with Jenny before embarking on this quest? Nope. So, we end up with Jenny believing that Winnie is trying to steal Raj from her. Which, okay, I guess I could have stood for that on its own, but then comes the kicker. Dev and Winnie kiss at a fundraising dance, Raj sees, Jenny sees, at this point, you would think Jenny would be happy. She has Raj! Winnie is clearly not a factor! But no. For some reason, she decides to screw over Dev. Now, what Dev at this point has ever done to Jenny to merit this, I do not know. As far as I can tell, Jenny is just the “crazy possessive girlfriend”. Bearing in mind that the reason she might feel like she needs to be possessive is because Raj can’t stand “failing”, i.e. losing Winnie to Dev, and neglects to break it off with Jenny first, i.e. is a dickhead. So, Jenny gets a reductive kind of storyline, with little or no motivation (I just want to know why she decides to screw over Dev!). A final note on the girl hating – Winnie is only really nice to Bridget, her best friend, and early on they do a bit of judgey talk about the other girls. And then there’s the “Indian Barbie”, who’s only role is to be a date for another character, be wholly uninterested in him, and get spoken about in kind of snide terms.

So yeah, that was my major issue. The other (significantly less major) one was just that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing style. It was readable, but ultimately just not for me.

But if you want a cute, film-based romance, then this would be for you.
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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Stripes Publishing and NetGalley!

My So-Called Bollywood Life is about film geek Winnie who is a Bollywood enthusiast and runs a review blog where she reviews movies. She is also the subject of a prediction by a pandit who says that she will meet the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, that his name will start with an R, and he will give her a silver bracelet. Naturally, she thinks that the guy in the prophecy is her boyfriend, Raj, because it makes sense. Until it doesn’t and they break up.

I really enjoyed My So-Called Bollywood Life. It’s a funny, light-hearted, and poignant YA Contemporary about first love and destiny. Here, Winnie has to face her own beliefs about her destiny and the reality that’s unfolding in front of her. First, her boyfriend break up with her. Then, her position as the head organizer of their school’s student film festival is challenged and may be in danger. Then her ex wants her back but she’s already starting to fall in love with someone who’s name doesn’t start with the letter R and thus, cannot be the subject of her prophecy.

As a coming-of-age story, MSCBL is a pretty good one. Winnie’s ex tries to disparage her love of movies and her choice of career but she stands by it. She has a passion for movies and film critique and it’s something she wants to do and make a career out of. I liked how she doesn’t take shit from Raj for it.

Also, I really enjoyed the epigraphs with Winnie’s film reviews. She’s very witty and also obviously very knowledgeable on Bollywood films, especially older ones. Those parts make me want to search the films mentioned and maybe watch them for myself.

I really enjoyed how Indian culture takes center stage in this book. It’s such an interesting and rich culture and I love how the author shares it with us through the characters, a large portion of which are Indian. She doesn’t explain all of the terms but Google is just a click away and learning more about it by searching things up is pretty fun because learning things is fun. And besides, you can glean a lot from context clues anyway. I loved how Winnie takes pride in her culture and is very invested in it.

At its core, MSCBL is a YA Contemporary Romance and for me, it hits all the right buttons for one. It has all the fluff and just the right amount of drama that I enjoy in the contemporary romance books that I read. I enjoyed how Winnie and Dev’s relationship progressed and I thought that it was pretty realistic. Also, I liked that Dev really supports Winnie and even shares her passion for film. They are seriously one of my new favorite contemporary couples because of healthy and just lovely their relationship was.

Overall, I really enjoyed My So-Called Bollywood Life and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA Contemporary.
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My So-Called Bollywood Life is an adorable story!! It was funny, sweet and in general very interesting to read! 

I enjoyed it so much, and there were so many quotes that I loved. My favourites: "As much as I want my prophecy to be true, I want it to be true because I made it happen." and "As much as I love Bollywood damsels in distress, I don't need saving. I am my own hero." To me, this describes Winnie very well. She is such a funny, smart and independent main character and I loved reading about her passion for movies! The family dynamic and the friendships in this book were also really enjoyable to read about :)

I definitely recommend this if you're looking for something cute, funny and quick!
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Well, that ended way sooner than I hoped it would, I was really enjoying that. Alongside that, I've never seen a single Bollywood movie (although I REALLY want to) but I am a really big movie fan. I used to have my own movie blog, but when I didn't have the time or the money to see new releases I stopped. I still review movies on my blog, but they're rarely for new releases anymore. 

It was just so fun reading about something that's a minor passion of mine while still being absorbed into the story. I LOVED Winnie. She's so...fierce. She knows exactly what she wants, and she will do what she needs to do to get there. She's got a Slytherin heart, and I adore her for it. She reminded me an awful lot of Dimple, because she's got that same mindset. 

Long story short, I really loved this book. The only reason it isn't a five star book was because it just didn't FEEL like a four star book for some reason?? But it was absolutely awesome, so it probably deserves it.
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I don't know if you can hear me screaming, but I want you to know that I am indeed screaming from all the cuteness. This book was so sweet that I swear I got some cavities from reading it.

This story looks into destiny and how things don't always end up like you thought they would. Maybe what we thought was perfect isn't really working for us after all, and that's alright. 

The Bollywood references, the sweet family dynamics, the friendship and some cute romance made this book so fun and entertaining and I'm so glad I picked it up!
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First of all I picked this book up because I love Bride and Prejudice and thought a book about Bollywood would be right up my street.
The book itself was ok, now and again things seemed a little rushed or easy but maybe that’s just me. I liked the fact that you had the movie reviews and I now have a ton of movies I can sit and watch and maybe if I did watch them I would understand more of the references. 
Nevertheless it was still an interesting and easy read and the Colin Firth references were on point so instant win there
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