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Book peeks into real underbelly of Bollywood

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Deception and Bollywood are two different words but in a sense indistinguishable in the industry as thread is to a needle, says author Juggi Bhasin whose new book seeks to rip open the glitter and glamour cover of Bollywood and expose the real underbelly.

'Bollywood Deception' by Penguin Books begins with the murder of a starlet named Jeanie which is followed by a series of killings of young aspiring actresses, each more gory and perverse than the last - that has the police stumped.

Kas Batterywalah, a disgraced former policeman, and Kassatta, a suspended military doctor, work together, wading through the scandalous lives of the top stars, their perversions and sinister games, and racing against time to connect the dots. Bhasin says he got a good look into Bollywood for a good five years and discovered a vein of stories which could be tapped after he left his job in Delhi in 2007 as a senior TV anchor and moved to Mumbai.

"The idea then was to write a book on Bollywood and combine it into the narrative of a fast, paced crime thriller. This idea had been brewing in my mind for the last eight years till I finally put pen to paper and came up with the book," he says.

''Bollywood is largely an unregulated industry with virtually no regulatory mechanisms. A deep vein of exploitation runs through the industry. Don't believe all the stories that it has been corporatised and therefore orderly. The infamous casting couch is still there but more pronounced for boys now rather than girls. Indeed contracts are signed but seldom honoured.''

"There are a whole lot of cases of music artists that have gone to court even though the copyright law has been amended. Acting schools scam innocent kids coming from small towns to Mumbai, many of them spending their parents' lifetime savings in the hope of becoming big stars," Bhasin said. "The top stars, especially the scions of film families operate with a feudal cocksureness and they walk away with all the film earnings, and artists at the bottom of the food chain are paid a pittance or sometimes even denied that.

"A film could make Rs. 100 crore at the box office but the producer could still be in the red because the top stars have skimmed all the cream. Everyone puts on a friendly, helpful and a heart full of goodness face, but the knives are out all the time. Deception and Bollywood become one," he goes on to say.

Bhasin says he has coloured true accounts with the colours of fiction and so the characters in his book are realistic rather than real or based on real life stars. "Well, I did see and observe the aberrant and exploitative behaviour of a lot of stars but the book is not based on the life and times of one big star or stars."

However, Kas and Kassata are inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. "I wanted to create an Indian version, especially a modern, contemporary version of the Sherlock- Watson duo. So you have a suicidal, brilliant Parsi detective Kas (Kas Batterywala) who teams up with a bisexual, disgraced military doctor Kassata (Dr Kasturi Pandey) and their chemistry is electric, always combustible as they crack the case."

Always big on research, Bhasin relied on what he had observed at the audition circuit, studio shoots and extensive conversations he had with struggling actors trying to gain a foothold in the industry. "My book rips open the glitter and glamour cover of Bollywood and exposes the real underbelly, the scandalous lives of top stars and the almost primeval dog eats dog mentality, that is the guiding spirit of the industry," he says.

Though he feels it is not a good idea for a writer to write the screenplay of his own novel, Bhasin says he could do that if he gets an offer. "I do want to be approached by a producer who wants to make a film based on the novel and introduce the pair of Kas and Kassata to Indian audiences. If that happens, I wouldn't mind seeing Anushka Sharma in the role of Kassata," he says.

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