My recent liking for Indian authors took me to the ‘Indian Fiction’ section in Crossword. I picked up the book ‘Bombay Duck is a Fish‘ by Kanika Dhillon hoping to read some crazy stories about the city I’ve lived in and experienced since past 7 years.
To wrap up the plot in few words, its the story of an aspiring filmmaker Neki Brar who comes to Mumbai; “the city of dreams” and lands a job as an assistant to a famous choreographer turned director (no prizes for guessing who she is). Despite of finding the right kick to start her career she keeps running into troubles. The book is about all that Bollywood is infamous for; bloated egos, sleaze, wicked co-workers etc. And a not-so-subtle mention of Shahrukh Khan whom she (the thin line between the author and the character is smudged here) obviously idolizes.
When we first meet our heroine Neki she is sitting on her terrace, wine bottle in hand. While contemplating suicide she flicks the pages of her diary where she has documented all the accidents of her life. As we continue we find out that our aspirant director left a lucrative job to follow her dreams but the problem here is that I didn’t understand her motivation. She looks star struck from the very first day and is already kissing (or rather being kissed by) the hot supporting actor Ranbeer Khanna within the first week of her job.
As per her diary she is hated by her co-workers because of the yellow shoes that she wore on the day of her interview. Now, I know that film industry is full of shallow people but I have yet to meet people who’ll judge you from your shoes, that too good shoes.
She has moved to Mumbai for the love of it but makes a fuss when a colleague (who also has a crush on her) takes her on a tour. Her life in Mumbai revolves between the studio, Ranbeer Khanna’s van and Ranbeer Khanna’s house, resulting in pregnancy and attempted suicide. In short, Neki looks shallow to me and never for a single moment gains my sympathy.
The film industry that Kanika has created in the book is a tale that parents tell their children to scare them off from the unimaginable path. If you are an aspirant filmmaker, film writer or actor don’t let your folks lay hand on this one. However, in this hell hole where everyone is ready to bite the only people with a heart of gold are either the extras or Shahrukh Khan and the super successful director.
‘Bombay Duck is a Fish’ indeed but a sukkha bombil with not enough meat.
Book: Bombay Duck Is A Fish
Author: Kanika Dhillon