Goodreads blurb: Sunheri and Suhana—twin sisters who share a horrific childhood—get caught up in a vortex of pain and deceit when Sunheri, a popular item girl in Bollywood, is accused of murdering her vicious uncle and is sent to jail. Suhana, an aspiring filmmaker, is determined to seek justice for her sister but comes up against Kala, their stepmother, who has hatched diabolical plans of her own. And when three other manipulative item girls—Nargis, Digital Dolly and Daisy—are identified as key eyewitnesses in Sunheri’s case, the matter only becomes more complicated.
Throw into the mix an explosive rape-tape, a brutal blackmailer, a cruel boyfriend, a cynical journalist who knows too much, and a hard-boiled cop, and what you have is a mind-bending psychological thriller that will hold you hostage until the end. An intense, gripping account of the dark side of showbiz, there is never a dull moment in Item Girl.
The action in this book revolves around the gruesome murder of KD and while all circumstantial evidence points towards his step-niece Sunheri Kashyap (Sunny) having killed him in a drug induced frenzy, the investigating officer ACP Kabir Bhonsle smells something fishy about the whole affair and goes on to conduct a thorough investigation leaving no loose ends.
However, what he doesn’t quite bargain for are the skeletons that come tumbling out of the closet from the past lives of all the people involved – Sunny, her sister Suhana, their step uncle KD, his seedy business associates, his sister and Sunny’s step mother Kala and the three other item girls Nargis, Digital Dolly and Daisy who were the key witnesses. What follows is quite the Pandora’s Box of events and characters who take the ACP on an unforgettable journey through the seedy under-currents of the cinema industry.
Written in an extremely edgy manner, especially the parts involving Sunny’s drug abuse and her traumatic childhood, the author Richa Lakhera does a lovely job of letting readers know more about the oft discussed in hushed tones but little known darker, disturbing elements of the industry such as the casting couch, the absolute lack of integrity and morality with which the seedier elements of the industry operate and the brazen display of wealth and power put on show by them. Kudos to the author for having woven these elements into the narrative in a manner that it forms an integral part of the plot without impeding the pace of the book in any manner.
And the fact that the author has also managed to make most of these characters memorable for different reasons ranging from their personalities to their insecurities also speaks volumes for the ‘insider’ level knowledge that she has of the industry and how it operates. And the brief epilogues that are presented in the last few pages of the book show a great depth of maturity as well on her part in stating what should otherwise be obvious, the fact that the show goes on, no matter what.
A breezy entertaining read and a must-read for anybody who thinks they know how the cinema industry operates. I am sure it will end up being an eye-opener in more ways than one.
Disclaimer: I was offered a review copy of this book by the publishers in return for an unbiased review.