23 April 2009

Bollywood Dreams

by Wendy Fitzgerald

Short Stop Press. Australian, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $19.99

Yesterday I went to India. To Bollywood twice! First, I finished reading Bollywood Dreams and secondly I watched Slumdog Millionaire, a movie set in India with a Bollywood theme. It was co-incidence but next time it won’t be. Bollywood is a fascinating subject.

Bollywood Dreams is the story of a young 16-year-old girl, India Singh, who lives on a large tea plantation in Darjeeling. India sees everything through song and dance and one day wants to be a famous Bollywood star. But her father is very strict and when her chance comes to escape to Mumbai with a part in a movie, he ensures she can’t go.

A few days later India is in Sydney Australia, hating everything.

India thinks her family is narrow minded and old fashioned. They don’t see what she sees. But what India doesn’t realise is that she is also wearing blinkers and cannot see the wonderful opportunities her new country offers.

The story is a fresh approach to how it feels to be an immigrant teenager. Not only do India and her family come across some prejudice I didn’t realise would exist – especially in Australian schools – but discover they have some prejudices of their own.

The narrative has such an authentic feel that, I was surprised to find Fitzgerald is not Indian or an immigrant, but she did go to India on a writer’s retreat. There she found the inspiration for Bollywood Dreams. On her website she says “I developed some new skills. I now can cook dinner, read English subtitles and dance at the same time.” I too have been known to do all three but not to a Bollywood movie. I’m inclined to go and rent one because they are good fun. Or better yet – someone may just create a movie in Australia with Bollywood Dreams as the script. Perfect!


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