Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Valley Book Group - King of Bollywood

The Spring Valley Book Group generally meets the first Thursday of each month, at 7 Pm, at the Spring Valley Library.

In April we discussed King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema, by Chopra, Anupama.

We selected this title to continue our interest in reading biographies. Several members had seen and greatly enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire, and were interested in knowing more about Indian cinema.

Everyone read the book, and everyone enjoyed it enormously. There is a whole culture of Indian cinema about which we had known nothing. Most of us were familiar with at least some stories of actors and actresses in Hollywood, and knew that the Hollywood culture existed. Sadly, none of us had heard of Shah Rukh Khan before reading this book. Khan is a superstar in India, and none of us had ever heard about him! Some of us had never even heard of Bollywood, or didn't realize Bollywood was an actual existing enterprise, as opposed to being a pun or a satiric description. Our discussion about this book was active and enthusiastic.

I mentioned that the Library District owned many different DVDs starring Khan. No one had even thought to look.

No one disliked the book. Some people were less taken with the "superstar" emphasis. (Some members are not really into the Entertainment Tonight / People Magazine mindset.) Others found that aspect appealing. We talked about whether we "liked" Khan as a person, as depicted in the book. The book bounces around a lot, so the biography wasn't always sequential. This made it confusing at times. That was a minor issue. Overall the book was very entertaining.

While King of Bollywood is pretty much a "read once" book, it was a great introduction into a country and culture with which the group was unfamiliar. It's one we'd recommend to other people just because it's such a great introduction to "real" Indian culture. Too many Americans are too unfamiliar with this large and fascinating country.

On May 7th, the group will be discussing:
Marrying Anita by Anita Jain.

We had actually selected this title a while ago to continue the "biography" theme. We are even more excited about this title, now that we've had a great introduction to Indian culture.

We'll be meeting at the Spring Valley Library on May 7th at 7 pm. See you there!

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