Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Bombay Duck is a Fish - Kanika Dhillon

Ever had a dream to make it big in Indian Film Industry? Ever checked your knowledge of Film Making? Ever wondered what exactly Mumbai is all about? Ever imagined how exactly a film is made? Ever thought from where all the rumors about Film stars come from? Ever thought if given a choice between survival and honesty, what would you choose? Ever imagined what guilty conscience is all about? “Bombay Duck Is A Fish” a debut novel by Kanika Dhillon, talks about dreams, reality, love, struggle, honesty, ethics, politics, Mumbai and films!

Neki Brar, yet another small town girl, begins her life in Mumbai in order to chase her dreams of becoming a renowned Film Maker. Little does she know that nothing comes ‘the easy way’ in Mumbai. She starts as a bottom most Assistant Director in a film by Fiza Kareem( one of the top directors, according to the book) and starts facing the reality of films. She learns Dos and Don’ts, blame game, art of deceiving, faking promises the hard way. Ranvir Khanna, the actor with looks to die for, the charmer, makes her fall in love with him and takes advantages. The other assistant directors, namely, Karan, PJ, Shivani, Kriti and Sam play an important role in changing her values and transforming her character from an honest and simple girl to a cunning and shrewd Assistant Director. Eventually she starts climbing the ladders to success and in that process makes more enemies. Battling rivalry, ambition, betrayal, politics and burning egos of Film stars, she discovers the beauty of her own ambition and the ugliness of true love.

A lot has been said and written about struggle and small town guys making big in Indian Film Industry, then why ‘Bombay Duck Is A Fish”?

Kanika Dhillon has used a very simple and honest writing style in the book. The details she gives about Film Making, such minute details, I tell you, are superb. She makes you watch the whole movie set and action through the words. Also, the first person writing style used in the book is so magnificently written that she makes you live the character of Neki Brar and feel her emotions and state of mind.

The life and role of Junior Artists, stunt men, make up men, spot boys, line producers, camera men, lighting men and many others are presented in such detail that you can’t help but praise Kanika. The reality of film stars, i.e., their intentions, their ego, their tantrums, their demands, their secrets and the truth is told in an unbiased and clear manner that she makes you realize that it doesn’t matter if the stars and everything look so fantastic and ideal, reality is always different. Everybody is pretentious. They have no other choice.

She also tells that if you have to survive in the industry and get credit and recognition of your work, you have to be at the right place at the right time and do the right thing. It doesn’t matter if that thing you do is right for you and wrong for others. Love is nothing in industry; everything that happens in the name of it is just an act of selfishness and lust.  

But, she does not forget to add that, if you want to fulfill your dreams, Mumbai is the city for you; and if you want to get lost, Mumbai is the city for you.
With so much about Mumbai, films and reality, “Bombay Duck Is A Fish” is for everyone who wants to get into Film Industry and has larger than life dreams. The book forces you to face the truth and the dark side of working in the industry. With such high stakes, where you know you’re going to lose much more than you gain, how far would you go in pursuit of dreams, and how many good virtues would you give up? And how can you be sure that despite of sacrificing so many things, you’ll eventually taste that ‘success’ you’ve been waiting for long?

Pros: Films, reality, dreams, ambition, virtues, Kanika’s natural flair with writing, superb editing, and fantastic conclusion in the end.

Cons: A few of you might call many events happening in the book ‘unreal’. For me, there are none.

Overall: 4.2/5

Do yourself a favor; buy this book this weekend and read it. 


  1. Very well written - direct, clear and crisp!!!
    Despite the fact that i don't like its cover, i will read this book (Courtesy - this review)

    P.S - You can even sell RGV's next to a Hollywood Producer with your reviews...u rock, Lebnox!!! ;) :P :D

  2. Okay, gotta admit, this is the best comment I have ever received on my blog! Thank you Shikha :)

  3. Hummm very impressive!! a "star" writer in making.. and i second what Shikha rightly said!