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The Bollywood mind: a rare book on culture, history and entertainment

The Bollywood mind: a rare book on culture, history and entertainment

The Bollywood Mind skillfully showcases Indian cinema (while questioning the meaning of the all-encompassing term “Bollywood”) and traces its history for more than a century. With anecdotes from five continents, this book tells the true, seamless and sizzling history of modern India with joy and excitement.

In this scrupulously researched book, Sunny Singh points out that Indian cinema has been the most “quintessentially Indian cultural product” over the past century, whether it is the masala movie, the kinetic thriller, the family saga, or the hilarious comedy.

The Bollywood mind: a rare book on culture, history and entertainment

Singh brings this art form to a global scale, but not condescendingly, but lovingly. There is a strong thread running through the book, covering the history of modern India and the ability of cinema to influence politics at both the micro and macro levels. Rarely has a book been written with such clarity and heart, engaging the reader and leaving them wanting more. The first few chapters on the origins of Indian cinema are delightful, while the chapters on ways of viewing movies are thought-provoking.

The book also paints a picture of the good life of Bollywood movies and the joy they continue to bring to a third-culture kid living all over the world: from New York to Barcelona, from Islamabad to London. Singh points out that Hindi movies continue to be the common ground for her to connect with people around the world.

In my own experience, people recognize The Three Stooges in my travels, whether in Beijing or Prague. Agnipus is a unique movie, and I remember my childhood in Lancashire, as well as the beloved music – in my case, AR Rahman’s beautiful soundtrack. The book is also interspersed with some heartwarming descriptions of Singer’s life, as well as some factual tidbits. For example, I didn’t know about Binaca Geetmala on the one hand, and after reading the book, I reveled in old videos of the radio show on YouTube. Reading this book was like being in an old friend’s house, talking about shared experiences and fond memories.

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