Title: A Bollywood Affair
Author: Sonali Dev
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Romance, Cultural Fiction (South Asian)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Mili Rathod was married when she was just four years old, in an illegal Indian village ceremony, to Virat Rathod, but she hasn’t seen her groom since her wedding day. Mili is certain that, one day, her husband will come for her, and in the meantime, she’s devoted herself to being the best wife she can. Mili has always been fascinated by psychology, and now she’s received the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in the United States. Samir Rathod is a “bad boy” director in Bollywood, India’s infamous film industry, but he’s also a devoted brother to Virat. And when Virat needs a divorce from Mili, Samir is only too happy to oblige his brother, to find Mili once and for all, and put an end to her sham of a marriage.
A Bollywood Affair is a dramatic novel, with its premise of child marriage, but it’s also a sweet romance full of culture. Mili is a great main character, and readers will root for her and Samir as they encounter obstacles on their road to eventual (if inevitable) happiness.
The romance genre is often bemoaned for its lack of diversity; while I don’t read a lot of romance novels, I certainly hear this a lot from my friends who are widely versed in the genre. Well, Sonali Dev is trying to change that with her adorable romance novel A Bollywood Affair, with two very different Indian characters at its center and a core that is about family, values, and culture.
Mili is a sweet, wonderful character who carries A Bollywood Affair on her small, if strong, shoulders. She’s self-deluded, to be sure: she really believes that, after all this time, Virat is coming for her. The reader knows very well that he isn’t (and not just because they see things from his point of view), but after awhile, the reasons why Mili has been deluding herself become clear. She has lived her entire life being told she is Virat’s wife; it is her identity, and she doesn’t know who she is if not that, so she clings to it with everything she has. It makes for interesting character development over the course of the novel, especially because Mili is such a sweet person who really captures the reader’s heart.
Samir is a different story in A Bollywood Affair—a brooding hunk of a man who has a soft side that no one but Mili can see. Is his storyline unrealistic? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not absolutely sweet and wonderful. There are many aspects of this novel that require leaps of imagination, but Dev is a talented enough author that they aren’t difficult to make. Readers want to go along with her story because it is so enjoyable and she creates such rich, vibrant characters.
If you’re a fan of romance, then A Bollywood Affair should absolutely be on your list. If you haven’t given the genre a chance, this might be a great choice with which to try it. The culturally diverse aspects give it an extra layer, and it’s really just a well-written and engaging novel. One thing is for certain: you’ll be rooting hard for Mili and Samir, and won’t be able to put this book down until you find out if they’re going to have a happy ending.