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Melodies fit for Bollywood

My name is Puneet Bhandal and this is this is a brief account of my journey into publishing

I have worked in magazine and newspaper publishing for many years but never imagined I would have a career as an author. For me, it was the idea of the Bollywood Academy books that led to me becoming an author.


Back in 2008, I couldn’t find Bollywood fiction books for my daughter and I was surprised to discover that they didn’t exist. So, I set about writing them. It was a very long road to getting published, however.


Back then, my publisher Lantana Publishing didn’t even exist! I approached Lantana in 2020 and was happy that the CEO and founder, Alice Curry, loved the idea.


I got there in the end because I believed in my idea and I was also willing to make changes that meant the books had a better chance of getting published. I am thrilled with the way the books have turned out.


Creating the series/world building of the Bollywood Academy

I wanted to create a world where readers will be able to experience the glitz and the glamour of the film industry while also being able to relate to the characters. So, the idea of a stage school was a perfect solution. Children reading the books can understand what the characters at the Bollywood Academy are going through with regards to rivalries, friendships, competing, feeling anxious, perhaps not having confidence etc.


But they will also get to experience the glitzy side of the movie business such as film shoots, auditions, photo shoots, film award shows and catwalk shows too.

The importance of keeping culture alive

This is so important to me and also many who want to read the books. It’s great for children of Indian origin who live in the West to be able to read about their culture, language and festivals. It’s equally important for children of non-Indian origin to learn about these cultures too. Books provide a perfect way for people to learn about the world.

Bollywood inside scoop - nepotism/ageism and gender bias

Nepotism is when people get opportunities because of who they know, not what they know.


Many of the star actors in Bollywood are famous because their parents were famous too. They have had an easy entry into the industry while other talented actors who have no connections find it very difficult to break into movies. I wanted to highlight this practice in Starlet Rivals. You can read all about Bela’s struggles!


Bollywood is also known for giving males more opportunities than females, which again, I feel is unfair. I love Bollywood but it definitely needs to have a look at some of its discriminatory practices. Melody Queen shows the difficult journey my character Simi has to go through because she is a female.

Any tips/advice for young writers on getting started

Firstly, read as many books on the genre you wish to write about. Then, start writing blurbs, work out the beginning, middle and end of your story. Next, start writing and get as much honest feedback from family members as you can.


Finally, never give up. I am proof that if you have a good idea plus the will and patience to see it through, you can do it too. Good luck!


Melody Queen (Lantana Publishing) is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.


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