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Bollywood Blonde


Bubbly fine arts graduate Gené is desperate to get into the film industry. She moves to Cape Town and works as a photographer for a tabloid magazine. Gené starts moonlighting on film sets and finds herself on an Indian paint commercial where a big Bollywood producer offers her a six-month stint in his company in Mumbai. Unable to resist the lure and glamour of working in film and traveling the world business class, she leaps at the opportunity and soon finds herself on a plane headed for India. But there is no free curry in Mumbai. On arrival she realizes she is expected to sleep with the producer, and slips into an uneasy, culturally challenging role as his new firangi girlfriend. The producer soon insists on transforming Gené into a size-6 blonde who he can show off on the red carpet. He puts her on a grueling diet and stringent exercise regime. Once a teenage anorexic, this pushes all her deepest buttons of insecurity around her fraught body issues. Even though he is twice her age, overweight, and often rude, she becomes obsessed with him, and is soon convinced that he is cheating on her. She goes on an all-out mission to make him love her. When it becomes clear the producer no longer wants her, she manipulates her way into turning her six-month work stint into a six-year epic stay. In her first year there, she works on 96 commercials and gets drawn into the rich cultural textures of India, experiencing India in a way rarely written about. With access to the who’s who in Bollywood, she rubs shoulders with India’s most famous glitterati, including the great Bly Avibath, India’s most famous actor. Gené also becomes close to Bollywood’s top director, Kiran, and they dream about making the film of her life, together. After a traumatic night with the producer in a London hotel, she realizes it’s time to leave India and come home.

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Although she continues to return to Bollywood over the next few years to do films with her hero Bly Avibath, who insists that she work with him, the producer now has little hold over her. On the last film that Gené does with Bly she tells him about her dream to tell her story. He surprises her by buying her a MacBook Pro, which she ends up using to write this book.

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