Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief: Inside the World of Indian Moviemaking

Stephen Alter, Author . Harcourt/Harvest $15 (260p) ISBN 978-0-15-603084-7

I ndian cinema goes by the shorthand Bollywood, which refers to Hindi-language films produced in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The style of filmmaking is distinct—elaborate plots, lots of song and dance and colorful costumes. It's got its own celebrities, and a fan base bigger than the combined population of Europe and America. Producing more than 900 movies a year, Bollywood is an exotic mystery to Westerners. Alter (Elephas Maximus ) lives and works in India; he's a natural guide into this complex world. He explains that Bollywood films are made by entrepreneurs rather than studios, with hit songs propelling the films, and along the way discusses the plots, the stars and the creators. Because romance is a key plot device, the love thief, a character who steals another's heart, boasts enduring appeal. Much of the book is devoted to the making of Omkara , an updated, uniquely Indian take on Shakespeare's Othello . Alter clearly loves the medium and sprinkles in a history of this fascinating industry, but by covering the production of just one film—however evocative—he doesn't fully capture the industry. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
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