Oh well, a lead is a lead, after all. Never mind that it's a million humid degrees in Bombay, the Los Angeles of the East; that she has to live with a wacko distant uncle who sleeps under furniture and is the most stressed-out wannabe swami on the continent; that her director is a lecherous hack and his movie has the potential of being the very worst flick ever made anywhere! At least Raveena's leading man is the supremely sexy Siddharth, Bollywood's biggest star. But while their on-screen chemistry is electric-hot, off-screen the arrogant hunk treats her with total disdain ... or, worse still, ignores her. Raveena's one consolation is that things couldn't possibly get any worse.
Oh yeah? Want to bet? Lights, camera, action!
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By Sonia Singh
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Sonia Singh
All right reserved.
Six months earlier ...
Raveena was seriously getting tired of her agent.
He ushered her into his Wilshire Boulevard office and into a black art deco chair shaped like a swan, which was definitely designed without the input of any self-respecting chiropractor. Sure enough, the moment she sat down she felt her back begin to spasm.
Griffin smiled. "I'm so sorry I haven't returned your calls. In between snorkeling in the Caribbean and yachting in the Mediterranean, I haven't had a moment to sit down."
Raveena had spent the holidays pouring half a bottle of brandy into her eggnog.
She felt a wave of depression wash over her.
Raveena wasn't normally a depressed person. She always tried to see the bright side of things. Sometimes it took a day or even a decade to see the silver lining, but at least she kept on trying.
Denial helped more.
Because it seemed the "LA" thing to do, Raveena had made an appointment with a well-known psychiatrist in Malibu. Unfortunately, the good doctor hadn't appreciated it when halfway through their session Raveena tentatively raised her hand and said, "Instead of talking, could we get to the prescribing?"
Basically, as if the month of January weren't gloomy enough, her acting career -- to put it politely -- was in the proverbial shit hole.
Griffin smiled again, and this time the effect nearly blinded her. Raveena knew she had good teeth -- everyone in the Rai family did -- but next to Griffin her pearly whites looked positively saffron.
Across from her, Griffin leaned back in his black leather chair, ran his fingers through his perfectly tousled red hair, and proceeded to wax eloquent about the fabulous role she simply had to try out for. "It's a career-making role, Raveena," he said.
It was always a career-making role.
As if she expected him to present her with a career-obliterating offer.
Griffin Bish had been Raveena's agent for seven years, ever since she'd moved to Los Angeles at the tender age of twenty-one. Some people may not have considered the move a big deal since she'd grown up just forty-five minutes away in Newport Beach. After all, it wasn't like she was some fresh-faced farm girl from Iowa hopping the bus in Des Moines, coming to LAwi th her dreams in her jeans pocket.
Or was it?
Orange County and Los Angeles may be neighbors, but they're worlds apart. On the surface, the two locations seem similar, like a glass of water and a glass of vodka, but then you take a sip . . .
Speaking of vodka, she thought longingly of the Stoli stashed in her freezer.
"Raveena, the role is to die for," Griffin insisted.
Her left butt cheek had grown numb and she shifted.
"You'll play one of two slave girls assigned to the emperor," he added. They want someone ethnic-looking. It's not a speaking part -- "
She sighed. "Naturally."
"But you'll be able to do a lot of emoting with your eyes."
Seven years in Hollywood and she'd played a gypsy girl, a belly dancer, a Mexican cocktail waitress ...
And those were the roles worth mentioning.
To be fair, it wasn't really Griffin's fault. Despite the success of films like Monsoon Wedding and Bend It Like Beckham in the west, Hollywood wasn't exactly teeming with roles for women of Indian origin.
Make that East Indian origin.
Thanks to geographically challenged Columbus, Raveena had once been sent on a casting call where the producers were looking for an Indian woman. Upon arriving, she'd discovered that by Indian they meant Pocahontas, not Parvati.
Anyway, in Raveena's expert opinion, her golden coloring should afford her a variety of roles. After all, she'd been mistaken for women of Hispanic, Arabic and Southern Italian origin. The problem was the number of available Hispanic, Arabic, Southern Italian and East Indian roles combined could fit in the tear duct of her right eye.
Besides, there were enough Hispanic and Italian actresses out there to fill their respective parts. Raveena knew the likelihood of a casting agent selecting her, when Salma Hayek and Jennifer Lopez were ready and willing, was about as likely as a foreign-born action star becoming governor of California.
Oh wait ...
Taking a deep breath, Raveena forcibly gulped down her pride. "When's the audition?"
Griffin flashed another blinding smile.
This was Hollywood, remember?
Excerpted from Bollywood Confidential by Sonia Singh Copyright © 2005 by Sonia Singh. Excerpted by permission.
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