Decoding Bollywood – Sonia Golani


This book was sent to me in exchange of an honest review by the folks at WritersMelon and Westland Books

Bollywood is as integral a part of Indian life as is spicy food. We all love the glitz, the glamour and the over-the-top romances of our film industry. Everyday half the population of the country turns first to the colourful newspaper sections dealing with the personal lives of the stars we love before looking at national headlines. However, the ones who don’t receive such open adulation are the masters behind the lens who actually orchestrate the whole film-making process and make our beloved actors shine – our movie directors. The real movie buffs and aficionados, like my husband, have always payed more attention to the director of a movie than to its stars. This book brings to life the directors of the much loved movies of recent times in an intimate chatty kind of way.

On receiving this book, I had to wait for a few days before my husband would hand it over to me. This book would have actually made a great coffee-table book since it is a wonderful conversation starter – namely, the ones that begin with ‘Did you know?’ How do I know this? Getting poked by your husband, who has a completely different set of tastes in reading material than you, just when you are at the cusp of falling into deep sleep with a question that begins with ‘Did you know…?’ gives you a unique insight into the curiosity-meter of a book – in this case, high enough to make an inherently intelligent man forget never to provoke a sleeping tiger(ess).

The book lends itself best to be read one chapter at a time, following them with references and discussions with friends and family of the movies that we all have seen. The narrative style is simplistic and easy on the brain cells, so even the so-called non-readers must not worry about picking up this book. The stories that unfold as each director talks about his/her initial struggles are in some cases truly inspirational. They are stories of incredible passion taking on the greatest odds and coming out triumphant in the end. It tells us how fickle the glamour world can be and how these people have picked themselves up from their very public, and often devastating financial, failures and tried once again to deliver the perfect hit. While reading about the different experiences of the directors another thing that comes across is the presence of people in the industry with an incredible eye for talent and the courage to stand up for what they believe is a worthy choice; for example, Aditya Chopra giving Kunal Kohli a chance to make Hum Tum after the phenomenal failure of Mujse Dosti Karoge. It somehow reaffirms your faith in mankind after all the horror stories one hears about those trying for a break in the Bollywood industry.

All in all, if you are a Bollywood lover, then this is a book tailor made for your bookshelves. The only drawback is, now you wish for a similar book written about 15 years ago with interviews with all the beloved directors that Golani missed.


6 thoughts on “Decoding Bollywood – Sonia Golani

  1. Hilarious -one reading of the book and I will be able to grasp at the main theme. I was talking to my friends in the morning walking plaza and they have been so much influenced with your writing. It is only me that get satisfied with the review and feel happy about my reading hobby without buying a one.. Thanks Mallu you are doing good.


    1. Sure sir – Anurag Basu, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Farah Khan, Kabir Khan, Kunal Kohli, Mahesh Bhatt, Nagesh Kuknoor,Nandita Das, Prakash Jha, R Balki, Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, Rohit Shetty, Sudhir Mishra, Vipul Shah and Zoya Akhtar


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