Aug 28, 2011

Bombay Duck is a Fish - Book Review

Author - Kanika Dhillon
Publishers - Westland Publishers

"Bombay Duck is a Fish" is Kanika Dhillon’s debut novel. Kanika is a scriptwriter at Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chilly Entertainment so perhaps it is not surprising that she has chosen Bollywood as the setting of her novel.

The book traces the journey of Neki Brar who leaves her Amritsar home for Bombay with dreams of becoming a Film-Maker. Neki is an MBA and is on the brink of a spectacular career in the corporate world, but she throws it all away to follow her Bollywood dream.

Once in Mumbai, she lands a job as an assistant director to one of Industry’s most famous directors. There is no typical bollywood struggle for livelihood here, Neki lands her job pretty easily. Rather Neki struggles in a different way as she faces cut throat competition, deceit and back stabbing at her job from day one.
Bombay Duck is a fish is an insider’s tale about the real Bollywood that the world doesn’t get to see – The struggle, the despair and the heart break behind the smiles and the deceit, debauchery and the ugliness behind the glamour.

Infact Kanika uses the topic of the book “Bombay Duck is a Fish” as a sort of metaphor for the world of Bollywood. In the book Neki actually thinks that Bombay duck is a duck and not a fish as she later discovers. Similarly through her journey in Bollywood, she learns the stark and often sad reality behind the facade of Bollywood.

The book is written in a very interesting manner. Most of the narration is in the form of Neki’s entries in her diary (she calls her diary Nano) or through her letters to her mother back home in Amritsar. The entries in her diary talk of her love for an upcoming actor, the ego clashes and even the humiliation she faces at work and her own ruthless ambition to succeed at all costs. The letters to her mother, on the other hand paint a very rosy and often untrue picture of the kind of life she actually wishes to live in Mumbai.

Sayings and phrases from Herman Hesse’s book Siddhartha also run through the book. Siddhartha was Neki's father’s favorite book and Neki could never understand why he liked it so much. Now as she struggles to find a foothold in her own life, she sort of understands why her father uses the book as the philosophy of his life. She learns to look at life as different shades of grey rather than being always black or white.

"Bombay Dick is a Fish", is a gripping tale of ruthless ambition, betrayal and dreams gone awry.I rather expected the book to end in the different way betrayal that it actually did.After all we are used to Bollywood films where things always turns out well in end. But perhaps that is what Kanika has been trying to tell us all along – That in Bollywood dreams don’t always come true !

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. Looks like I need to put this book in my 'To-Read' list.

    Sounds like the movie, 'Fashion'.

  2. Sounds interesting. Will look it up :)

  3. I bought this book because of three reasons

    - good promos, by creating a short youtube video

    - the author is also an screen writer in much hyped movie

    - Shahrukh himself has launched it

    Got the book and started reading.

    The book has so many flaws, I now realized why the movie got doomed.

    It started so well, that i was thrilled to complete it as fast as I can. But as I reached 20th page, my enthu died down. It took me nearly 15 days - 2 hours each to complete the book. (no I am not a slow reader, but wanted to understand every bit of the book)

    I felt so bad after reading the end, that i decided I will no longer waste anytime to write the review. But few weeks down the line, here I am to save you from the effort.

    My take in short

    it started quite well - but that's about it.
    too many problems
    - weak story structure
    - too many characters, to remember
    - flawed connection between chapters
    - weak ending

    for more reviews

  4. Thanks for sharing nice information about mumbai. search jobs near by you in mumbai.



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