When Bollywood Inspires Chick Lit

Bollywood-style romances, with songs and dances, and their own variation of the Hollywood rom-com cute meet, have found an audience globally. Recently I came across a chick-lit novel that has been inspired by Bollywood.

Written by Nicola Marsh, an Australian author who has penned 30 novels and sold 3 million copies, Busted in Bollywood is one of her most recent books. It is a fun romantic comedy set partly in Mumbai, home of Bollywood industry, and New York. Featuring a multinational cast of characters, Nicola builds the romantic tension as well as gives an insight into Indian cultural nuances on dating, marriage, and food. The story is about Shari Jones, an Indo-American girl, who agrees to her best friend Amrita’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. The fun begins once she lands in Mumbai, is mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé. The secondary characters such as the loud Indian aunt, Anjali, are enjoyable and would resonate with Indians who are likely to have a relative or two like her. Even though Nicola uses some stereotypes – including the mandatory Indian fortune teller – she does so without turning it into a cliched situation.

Films such as Bride & Prejudice and Monsoon Wedding have dived into the Bollywood culture and there have been some chick-lit novels that are set in Bollywood. But Nicola does a more “global” turn with her book. She presents Bollywood and Indian culture in a fun-filled, easy-to-relate-to romantic package that keeps the reader turning the pages. The ending, with its dramatic Bollywood tone, is a fitting climax to a story of colliding cultures and romantic alliances. This one has all the necessary ingredients for a Bollywood-meets-Hollywood rom-com or a pure Bollywood romance complete with the colourful song and dances.

Here’s a short interview with the author, Nicola Marsh.

What inspired you to write a rom-com set in Bollywood? Are you familiar with Bollywood films?

My dad watches Bollywood films almost daily and he got me hooked on them a few years ago. I loved the colour, drama, romance, music and all-round vibrancy, and thought I’d love to capture some of that in a book.

What has been the response to your book? Are readers interested in knowing more about India and/or Bollywood?

Luckily, readers have loved the book (with many warning not to read on an empty stomach because you’ll be starving for delicious Indian food by the time you finish!) I think India holds a fascination for most people so being able to travel vicariously to this wonderful, mystical land has huge appeal.

I love the way you blend Indians’ love for films, food and fortune-telling into your story. And of course, you throw in arranged marriages too! Was it all based on ‘great research over the Internet’ or do you have a secret Indian fairy guiding you? LOL.

Oooh…the secret Indian fairy guide sounds great! Where can I find one? 🙂 My parents were born and raised in India so I’ve been immersed in some of the culture (mainly the food!) from a young age. Then the Bollywood flicks came along and Busted in Bollywood shimmered into my imagination piece by piece. I interviewed Indian friends for some of the more traditional aspects of the book (eg. Hindu wedding, which I’d love to go to one day, any one want to invite me? Pretty please?) and used the Internet a lot!

Are you thinking of writing a sequel to this or maybe a Bollywood series?

I actually have a firm idea for Divya’s story in my head, but I’m now writing for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Entangled Publishing, Month9Books and Crimson Romance, so the time factor isn’t great. Hopefully one day!

If this were to be made into a movie — do you see it as a rom-com for Western audiences or a song-and-dance type Bollywood film?

I see Busted in Bollywood as a rom-com for Western audiences, along the lines of Bride and Prejudice, with its mixed cast. Then again, I wouldn’t complain if it were made into a Bollywood film either!

{For more about Nicola, check out her website: http://www.nicolamarsh.com}

About Adite

Author & Screenwriter
This entry was posted in A Novel Journey and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to When Bollywood Inspires Chick Lit

  1. closetsage says:

    Although I don’t typically read romance novels, the premise here sounds fun. I put Busted in Bollywood it on my wish list…to read right after I’m finished with Margaret Atwood’s, the Penelopiad. From Greek straight to Indian. Quite an international reading month for me!


  2. Ruchita says:

    A wonderful review, Adite. I love this type of romcom books. Nice to know Nicola has Indian roots. So her love of Bollywood has a hereditary factor! 🙂


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