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Authors: Sonia Singh

Bollywood Confidential

BOOK: Bollywood Confidential
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Sonia Singh
Bollywood Confidential

This book is dedicated to my father, Bhupindar Aujla Singh, affectionately known as Bob. If it wasn't for you, Dad, I never would have made it to Bombay. Thank you for making the whole Bollywood experience happen.

Mom, thank you for instilling in me a love for all things Bollywood. Masala moviemaking has no bigger fan than you.

Contents

Raveena Rai once believed there was nothing worse than being…

Chapter 1

Raveena was seriously getting tired of her agent.

Chapter 2

One week later Raveena had tried out for the role…

Chapter 3

After dinner Raveena returned in a daze to her small…

Chapter 4

Siddharth was the number one actor in India.

Chapter 5

“Unlike you, Jai, not everyone was sexually active in the…

Chapter 6

“India is a dirty stinking place. Too many stinking people.

Chapter 7

Raveena was standing in the first-class passenger line at the…

Chapter 8

Halfway through dinner, Randy Kapoor fired his screenwriter.

Chapter 9

Four A.M. outside Bombay's Sahar Airport.

Chapter 10

“I don't want to do this film,” Siddharth said, his…

Chapter 11

The heat was so intense Raveena could practically hear the…

Chapter 12

Raveena had never checked out of a place as fast…

Chapter 13

From his second-floor bedroom, Heeru Punjabi watched the young woman…

Chapter 14

Raveena followed a slender, dark-skinned young woman with a shy…

Chapter 15

The next morning Raveena was having breakfast alone when Randy…

Chapter 16

Not surprisingly, Raveena didn't care for the director.

Chapter 17

Half an hour later, Raveena found herself at Sahara Studios.

Chapter 18

Siddharth nearly tripped as he got out of his car.

Chapter 19

Isn't it nice when a gorgeous guy dismisses you with…

Chapter 20

The pain was so intense Raveena sat up in bed…

Chapter 21

The good thing about picking up an ameba or two…

Chapter 22

Raveena was attending her first Bollywood bash.

Chapter 23

Siddharth wondered if the rumors were true.

Chapter 24

Raveena wondered if anyone had ever thought of constructing a…

Chapter 25

The next day was Tuesday, and Raveena spent the morning…

Chapter 26

By the grace of Ganesh, Raveena hoped to make it…

Chapter 27

Raveena was still in a spiritual mood after her sojourn…

Chapter 28

The next few weeks began to take on a weird…

Chapter 29

Siddharth's mother, Poonam, reached for Raveena's plate. “Have some more…

Chapter 30

“What are you doing?” Sachi asked.

Chapter 31

Siddharth drove to Zenzi.

Chapter 32

Days turned into weeks.

Chapter 33

Raveena stopped insisting on a bound script and plot coherency…

Chapter 34

Siddharth wandered through the empty studio, running his hands along…

Chapter 35

That night Raveena sat down with Uncle Heeru to watch…

Chapter 36

It had been a sleepless night.

Chapter 37

Too soon it was dark out, and they were heading…

Chapter 38

Life seemed to go downhill after that.

Chapter 39

Raveena put her hair in a ponytail and slipped on…

Chapter 40

Shooting resumed a week later.

Chapter 41

Raveena's mother called that night.

Chapter 42

Raveena got a call that morning from Millie D'Souza.

Chapter 43

Newspapers carried reports that it was the hottest day in…

Chapter 44

Raveena wasn't a wimp.

Chapter 45

Damn it to hell!

Chapter 46

Hours later, Raveena was still huddled on the dirt floor…

Chapter 47

Raveena awoke in a cool air-conditioned room in a bed…

Chapter 48

Daddy indeed straightened everything out.

Raveena Rai once believed there was nothing worse than being a
D-list actress in Hollywood.

But that was before she found herself crouched on the dirt floor of a Bombay slum, inhaling fecal matter fumes and frightened beyond belief because she was on the run from the Indian police.

Back in LA, the most frightening thing in her life had been discovering she'd mistakenly eaten carbohydrates while on the Atkins diet.

Now she faced incarceration in an Indian prison.

Personally, Raveena would rather leap off Mt. Everest—provided she could make it across India's border and into Nepal.

She longed to be back in her Santa Monica condo, drinking a vodka tonic and writing practice acceptance speeches for her Oscar for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress.

Whichever came first.

Regarding the vodka tonic, Raveena worried about eating carbs…not
drinking
them.

She moved from crouching to a curled-up fetal position. The heavy night air caused trickles of sweat and grime to run down her face.

But this was no time to think about the havoc wreaked on her pores.

A near hysterical giggle slipped from her lips as she visualized the expression on her dermatologist's face. “But Raveena, how could you be on the run without sunblock, an oil-free moisturizer and a good eye cream?”

But before she could lapse into a bout of panic-stricken chuckles, the sound of voices erupted from outside.

Loud male voices.

The police had found her.

Desperately, she looked around for a place to hide.

Rather difficult in a shanty one-sixteenth the size of a studio apartment in New York City. The only furniture in the room was a shabby straw mat.

This was no time to be choosy, so she scuttled across the floor and began wriggling her way under the covering just as the door burst open.

Uniformed men with flashlights filled the room and yanked off her hiding place.

She placed a weak hand in front of her eyes to shield them from the glare of the lights.

This was the end.

All twenty-eight years of her life flashed before her.

Well, okay, maybe just the last six months.

Every single event that had led up to her coming to Bombay.

And a place known simply as…

Bollywood.

Six months earlier…

Raveena was seriously getting tired of her agent.

He ushered her into his Wilshire Boulevard office and into a black art deco chair shaped like a swan, which was definitely designed without the input of any self-respecting chiropractor. Sure enough, the moment she sat down she felt her back begin to spasm.

Griffin smiled. “I'm so sorry I haven't returned your calls. In between snorkeling in the Caribbean and yachting in the Mediterranean, I haven't had a moment to sit down.”

Raveena had spent the holidays pouring half a bottle of brandy into her eggnog.

She felt a wave of depression wash over her.

Raveena wasn't normally a depressed person. She always tried to see the bright side of things. Sometimes it took a day or even a decade to see the silver lining, but at least she kept on trying.

Therapy helped.

Denial helped more.

Because it seemed the “LA” thing to do, Raveena had made an appointment with a well-known psychiatrist in Malibu. Unfortunately, the good doctor hadn't appreciated it when halfway through their session Raveena tentatively raised her hand and said, “Instead of talking, could we get to the prescribing?”

Basically, as if the month of January weren't gloomy enough, her acting career—to put it politely—was in the proverbial shit hole.

Griffin smiled again, and this time the effect nearly blinded her. Raveena knew she had good teeth—everyone in the Rai family did—but next to Griffin her pearly whites looked positively saffron.

Across from her, Griffin leaned back in his black leather chair, ran his fingers through his perfectly tousled red hair, and proceeded to wax eloquent about the fabulous role she simply
had
to try out for. “It's a career-making role, Raveena,” he said.

It was always a career-making role.

As if she expected him to present her with a career-obliterating offer.

Griffin Bish had been Raveena's agent for seven years, ever since she'd moved to Los Angeles at the tender age of twenty-one. Some people may not have considered the move a big deal since she'd grown up just forty-five minutes away in Newport Beach. After all, it wasn't like she was some fresh-faced farm girl from Iowa hopping the bus in Des Moines, coming to LA with her dreams in her jeans pocket.

Or was it?

Orange County and Los Angeles may be neighbors, but they're worlds apart. On the surface, the two locations seem similar, like a glass of water and a glass of vodka, but then you take a sip…

Speaking of vodka, she thought longingly of the Stoli stashed in her freezer.

“Raveena, the role is to die for,” Griffin insisted.

Her left butt cheek had grown numb and she shifted.

“You'll play one of two slave girls assigned to the emperor,” he added. They want someone ethnic-looking. It's not a speaking part—”

She sighed. “Naturally.”

“But you'll be able to do a lot of emoting with your eyes.”

Right.

Seven years in Hollywood and she'd played a gypsy girl, a belly dancer, a Mexican cocktail waitress…

And those were the roles worth mentioning.

To be fair, it wasn't really Griffin's fault. Despite the success of films like
Monsoon Wedding
and
Bend It Like Beckham
in the west, Hollywood wasn't exactly teeming with roles for women of Indian origin.

Make that East Indian origin.

Thanks to geographically challenged Columbus, Raveena had once been sent on a casting call where the producers were looking for an Indian woman. Upon arriving, she'd discovered that by Indian they meant Pocahontas, not Parvati.

Anyway, in Raveena's expert opinion, her golden coloring should afford her a variety of roles. After all, she'd been mistaken for women of Hispanic, Arabic and Southern Italian origin. The problem was the number of available Hispanic,
Arabic, Southern Italian and East Indian roles combined could fit in the tear duct of her right eye.

Besides, there were enough Hispanic and Italian actresses out there to fill their respective parts. Raveena knew the likelihood of a casting agent selecting her, when Salma Hayek and Jennifer Lopez were ready and willing, was about as likely as a foreign-born action star becoming governor of California.

Oh wait…

Taking a deep breath, Raveena forcibly gulped down her pride. “When's the audition?”

Griffin flashed another blinding smile.

This was Hollywood, remember?

BOOK: Bollywood Confidential
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