Book review: 'Bollywood Striptease'

Sunday, 8 April 2012 - 11:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Some real names could have stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest. After all, what’s the point of playing it safe in the muck that is Bollywood?

Bollywood Striptease
Author: Neeta Shah
Publisher: Rupa
Pages: 196
Price: Rs140

What do Madhur Bhandarkar, Shakti Kapoor, Aman Verma, Onir and Dibakar Bannerjee have in common?

At some point, aspiring actresses (actor in Onir’s case) have levelled charges of indecent propositioning against them. And here is Nikki Shah, protagonist of Bollywood Striptease, making a note of every audition and casting couch as she goes about finding her footing in the big bad world of Bollywood.

Having nurtured a childhood dream of painting the silver screen red, Nikki gives up her cozy job as a chartered accountant in a reputed firm to make a name in Bollywood. She fights conservative family members, concerned friends and possessive boyfriends to live her dream, one audition at a time.

The author Neeta Shah uses flowery language (not necessarily enlightening) to narrate her day-to-day experiences, some good, most horrid. Shah writes in the first person, and most chapters are not more than 3-5 pages, understandably narcissistic, all 188 of them. Every chapter explores Nikki’s determination, blooming friendships, unpleasant incidents, and happy coincidences on her journey into modelling and acting.

Even though Bollywood Striptease makes for a breezy read, the superficiality of the exercise is what one can’t get over. Very few characters appear throughout the book, yet no attempt is made to flesh them out. If the author’s looking for empathy, that’s hard to come by. The content is controversial, and the first person account makes it believable. Much is left to the imagination, whereas some precise description could have made Bollywood Striptease a more interesting and gripping read. Model-turned-author Neeta Shah drops enough hints to indicate that this novel is based on her own experience, but she refrains from taking names, for obvious reasons.

Not insightful even by a long shot, Bollywood Striptease is only a tease, telling and re-telling what you already know. Some real names could have stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest. After all, what’s the point of playing it safe in the muck that is Bollywood?


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