By Renu Jain Chandarana @renujc
Hey masalamomma! Run off your feet during the day and feeling spent by 8pm at night? Can’t bring yourself to watch a 3-hour Bolly flick but dying to experience some glamour, action, and old fashioned romance? Then look no further than Puneet Bhandal’s “Bollywood Series”, a trilogy of books written by the UK author. Move over Twilight and The Hunger Games! There’s a South Asian trilogy in town!
Written for ‘tweens’ (ages 8-14) these three books are an easy read for both parents and kids. A true labour of love for the author who had 2 kids at home, ages 1 and 2 when she wrote Starlet Rivalry, the first of the series. Riding on the high from her first published book, she churned out the second, Double Take in just six months! Then, already having the story in her head for her third book, she decided to make her next goal to complete it before she gave birth to her third child. Stuntman was published, successfully just before her little one was born in 2011.
Puneet Bhandal is a freelance journalist who started her career working as the Entertainment Editor for UK’s Eastern Eye magazine. Puneet says, “I spent a lot of time on film sets for that job and realized that there was a gap in the book market for ‘tweens’ and the genre of Bollywood. There are no fiction books out there about the Indian film industry. Growing up, I read stacks and stacks of fashion, entertainment and Bollywood magazines but I always found it ‘work’ to pick up an academic book – especially if a teacher was forcing me to read it!” Her idea for making reading fun for ‘tweens’ came about with the “Bollywood Series” of books where fictional film actors experience drama and romance on and off of their film sets.
Now that the books are on shelves (in the UK and online in the USA on Amazon), Puneet spends a lot of her time marketing the books with schools, libraries and community groups. Her workshops start with her telling students and teachers about her work as a film journalist. She then engages them in a writing workshop where they get to be creative as well as watch some brief movie clips of Bollywood films. Her workshops end with her teaching everyone some hip Bollywood dance moves. Unique, entertaining, educational, and perfect for anyone who needs an introduction to Bollywood – or is a huge fan of it! When talking about what she noticed in the students’ behaviour during the workshop Puneet said, “what really is a shocker is how involved the boys get. I always thought the books would cater more to the female audience, but I see boys lined up at the end of the workshops to purchase the books and I see them completely engaged in the dance part of the workshop!”
Her books are successful for the tween market because they take the reader behind the scenes on a film set and reveal all the glitz and glamour of being a Bollywood star. The characters in each book are not based on real life actors in the Indian film industry but Puneet says, “I do draw on some nuances that occur in the industry in order to make the series believable.”
Her readers appreciate that the books are easy to read and so entertaining. They aren’t academic, they’re full of fun and fantasy!
Puneet also promotes literacy with her book by using them as a tool to help readers with English as a second language to break into fiction books and strengthen their reading skills. The “Bollywood Series” is wonderful for parents and kids to share.
For now readers can enjoy the trilogy but Puneet says, “I look forward to writing three more books in the future to make a six book complete set. My goal is to also have the books published in India and North America.” (I sure hope so!)
“Bollywood Series” is a trilogy of the following titles:
Starlet Rivalry, Double Take, and Stuntman
To learn more about Bollywood Series, visit Puneet Bhandal’s website at: www.bollywoodseries.com
You can follow her on Twitter @bollywoodseries