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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 11 April 2002
I read an article about this book in one of the Sunday papers and thought it sounded really interesting. I wasn't disappointed. There is some fascinating Bollywood background and behind the scenes stuff, and the style is very light hearted and irreverent and easy to get along with. I hope Chris England gets apart in another film really soon so he can write about it.
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on 3 July 2003
It's been a while coming, but finally there is a cricket book to rival Marcus Berkmann's excellent Rain Men. Like the earlier classic, this has loads of great dry humour about the business of running an amateur cricket team - such as persuading half-hearted members to turn up by lying about there being a pub on the boundary. What it also has, though, which is great, is a genuinely original story to tell about the making of the Bollywood smash Lagaan, and about the grudge challenge match on the set between the Indian stars and the English visiting actors. This book is a laugh a minute, gold dust for cricket fans, and I've been giving it to friends as presents ever since I discovered it. What more can I say?
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on 8 January 2003
Having heard this on the radio as a Book Of The Week I was delighted to discover it as a cassette. A very enjoyable listen. The author has a genial reading style, combining a nice deadpan way with a one-liner with an almost audible twinkle-in-the-eye which kept me chuckling along with him. His tale of making a film about cricket in India, and all the participants becoming more interested in a real grudge match than the fictional game is enchanting, amusing, and actually surprisingly exciting.
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on 4 April 2007
Don't worry if you are not a cricket fan (I don't understand the game so have little interest in it) - this is more a book about getting on abroad and trying to make it big in the movies. There are enough cricketing references for those in the know but for me the attraction was the humourous writing and real sense of wonder from a bit-part actor thrust into the world of Bollywood. A great one for the beach
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on 23 April 2002
I really enjoyed this book. It was an entertaining, absorbing read, with some particularly enjoyable stuff about the business of running an amateur cricket team. The Bollywood angle is interesting, but this is more a cricket/comedy book than a serious dissection of the Indian film industry. The earthquake bit at the end is a bit of a jolt, but otherwise a throughly amusing book - highly recommended.
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on 8 March 2003
Maybe one should always be suspicious of books where the jacket reviews seem to be written by the author's mates. On the cover, Nick (They Think It's All Over) Hancock describes this as "three ... hilarious books for the price of one"...[it]... didn't entirely work for me. Bits were amusing, certainly, but there was also much that was irritating, banal, trite and just unfunny. For a part-travel diary from a thespian and cricketer I expected a bit more respect for India rather than jokes about head waggling, curries and local cuisine-based bottom-related maladies.However, Balham to Bollywood is certainly an interesting and often amusing insight into the world of film-making, whether Bollywood or Pinewood, and certainly parts of its are funny. Chris England is an actor and comedy writer (in fact, co-writer of the excellent An Evening With Gary Lineker) who accepts a part in a Bollywood film (Lagaan) to be made in India and based around a cricket challenge match set in the last century between Indian locals and the Imperial English rulers. (Guess who wins?).
Written in the format of a travel diary, we follow the cast through the auditions (largely based on cricket skills), the travel preparations and rehearsals, the botched costume fittings (where intricate measurements are taken then everyone given shapeless, ill-fitting stuff to wear!), the endless takes, the amusing crowd scenes and incidents along the way and ultimately the real life challenge match between the local crew and director and the English actors (Really guess who wins?!). In fact, the main event is the real challenge match and it is amusing to see how the day-to-day tasks of getting the movie together have a sub-plot related to the anticipated real game.   
The book, however, is a constant tussle between, on the one hand, an insight into the worlds of film-making and Indian culture which, of course, come together in Bollywood (and what a way to experience it!) and, on the other, a book of gratuitous remarks and unfunny rehashed jokes. A unique book, based on a great idea, is somewhat spoiled by an under-current of rather puerile asides. I did enjoy it, mostly, and it is certainly an entertaining and oft-amusing read. However, it is too long (329 pages in hard-back form) and could have been much better if it had stuck to being an account of the film-making (and the cricket match, of course)...
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on 22 September 2010
This book is an amazing tale of movie making, cricket and India. Make sure you watch Lagaan first (or in installments whilst reading the book as I did) as it has great descriptions for those not au fait with Bollywood.
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on 1 January 2003
...Bits were amusing, certainly, but there was also much that was irritating, banal, trite and just unfunny. For a part-travel diary from a thespian and cricketer I expected a bit more respect for India rather than jokes about head waggling, curries and local cuisine-based bottom-related maladies.
However, Balham to Bollywood is certainly an interesting and often amusing insight into the world of film-making, whether Bollywood or Pinewood, and certainly parts of its are funny. Chris England is an actor and comedy writer (in fact, co-writer of the excellent An Evening With Gary Lineker) who accepts a part in a Bollywood film (Lagaan) to be made in India and based around a cricket challenge match set in the last century between Indian locals and the Imperial English rulers. (Guess who wins?).
Written in the format of a travel diary, we follow the cast through the auditions (largely based on cricket skills), the travel preparations and rehearsals, the botched costume fittings (where intricate measurements are taken then everyone given shapeless, ill-fitting stuff to wear!), the endless takes, the amusing crowd scenes and incidents along the way and ultimately the real life challenge match between the local crew and director and the English actors (Really guess who wins?!). In fact, the main event is the real challenge match and it is amusing to see how the day-to-day tasks of getting the movie together have a sub-plot related to the anticipated real game.
The book, however, is a constant tussle between, on the one hand, an insight into the worlds of film-making and Indian culture which, of course, come together in Bollywood (and what a way to experience it!) and, on the other, a book of gratuitous remarks and unfunny rehashed jokes. A unique book, based on a great idea, is somewhat spoiled by an under-current of rather puerile asides. I did enjoy it, mostly, and it is certainly an entertaining and oft-amusing read. However, it is too long (329 pages in hard-back form) and could have been much better if it had stuck to being an account of the film-making (and the cricket match, of course)...
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