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Nicholas R. Bradley
144 Pages
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Editions (September 2006)
ISBN: 9812612114
Price: S$57.75 (Available in Borders)






It was the usual routine - this reviewer was trying to read his book during a jam-packed train ride home when the following incident happened. It didn’t occur to him that he was passing through Little India station, also known as the center where you can find the largest Indian community in Singapore.

You see, the colorful pictures in this book attracted many Indian foreign workers around him, probably because the images were an assuring and familiar sight to them in this foreign land.

The well-printed book focuses on the Bollywood film industry in Bombay, where about 150 to 200 movies are produced annually (contributing to the yearly national average of about 800). The hustles and bustles of the city are described in text written by Nicholas R. Bradley, as well as lavishly-shot photographs taken by Robert James Elliot.

In fact, the many pictures in this book are probably what you’d remember fondly after reading the book.

Bombay as a city; its developments; the music and stars of Bollywood; and the people who work behind the camera: these chapters together form the full picture of this book.

From the easily comprehensible write-ups, readers can learn about Indian film history (no, Bollywood movies did not start off featuring the now-popular dance and song sequences), the thematic trends in Bollywood movies, the power the stars command and how recent developments in the industry has impacted the country locally and internationally. These interesting facts are written by Bradley in a brief and concise manner, which will definitely sustain your interest level.

The gorgeous complementary pictures feature people leading their everyday lives in the city, movie stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta looking their best, hardworking crew preparing for shoots, amongst other defining moments caught Elliot’s camera. The photographs simply beg your eyes’ attention.

Those familiar with Bollywood productions will have a good time reading about titles like Lagaan (2001), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) and Hum Ko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006). If not, this might just be the book to spark your interest.

While we at this part of the world continue to be amazed by the recent slew of Bollywood productions like Krrish, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Dhoom: 2, there is a part in this reviewer who thinks that we may simply be escaping into Bollywood’s world of exoticism.

Bombay is portrayed as a city in this book where wishes can come true for anyone in the large population, as long as he or she dares to dream. But as the book briefly mentions in its opening chapters, the reality in Bombay is a sad one.

And from the eyes of the foreign workers beside me on the train, I could sense this harsh truth.


“It is not uncommon to find a taxi driver with a self-penned screenplay or two stuffed in his pocket on the off chance that his passenger could turn out to be his entry ticket into the industry. Cafes reputedly frequented by Bollywood directors and producers are more often the haunts of budding writers and actors, pinning back their desperation with hopes of a chance encounter with someone who could change their lives forever. At times it seems that almost everyone in the city is just waiting for their break into the promised land of films.”


Definitely more interesting than your average film studies textbook, this comprehensive and visually-enticing book is a fine guide into the world of Bollywood movies.


Review by John Li



. The Film Snob's Dictionary

. Movie Poster

. Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore




. Bollywood 101





. Dhoom 2

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

. Krrish




This book review is made possible with the kind sponsor of BORDERS


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