That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar

Hello, Supriya Kelkar! I always love when you visit Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate books.

Supriya Kelkar: Hi Mr. Schu! Thanks for having me. I’m always so happy to be here with you!

Thank you for being here. Are you up for taking us on a tour of Abigail Dela Cruz’s cover illustration and Laura Lyn DiSiena’s cover design for That Thing About Bollywood?

Supriya Kelkar: Yes! Our first stop on the tour of this gorgeous cover by Abigail Dela Cruz and Laura Lyn DiSiena is main character Sonali, dressed in vibrant blue with dazzling, glowing Indian jewelry, like the bright colors of a Bollywood movie. She is mid-dance, and there is a magical, mysterious wind blowing through her hair, causing flower petals to fly all around her. This wind plays a big role in Sonali’s story.

Next up, are the background dancers behind Sonali. They’re poised as they pose, much like Sonali tries to be, hiding her emotions, always acting like nothing bothers her, until a magical condition changes her world. 

And last up on our tour, is the gorgeous purple font full of joy and intrigue in the title. So what exactly is that thing about Bollywood? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Thank you for that exciting and informative tour! 

Scenario: A bookseller at Bookbug asks you to fill out a shelftalker about That Thing About Bollywood.

Supriya Kelkar: “I wanted to break out into song-and-dance while reading this book! It’s about a Bollywood-loving girl who has trouble expressing herself until a magical condition forces her to do so in the most obvious way possible, through Bollywood song-and-dance numbers! Read it, even if singing and dancing isn’t your thing.”

What are some of your favorite Bollywood movies?

Supriya Kelkar: I grew up watching three Hindi movies a week on VHS tapes. They didn’t have subtitles back then and it’s actually how I learned Hindi. So I have way too many favorites to name but I think Lagaan, a fictional epic about colonization and cricket, is a great introduction for anyone who’s looking to get into Bollywood.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Sonali like Lekha, in American as Paneer Pie, is dealing with hiding a part of her life. Unlike Lekha though, she has the help of magic on her journey.

There is one place where the idea for That Thing About Bollywood started, and that’s nErDcampMI, where I get to see you! One year, author Karina Yan Glaser and I were talking about books and something she said made me want to write a book that incorporated Bollywood. It took me a few months to come up with this story but it is yet another wonderful thing that happened because of nErDcampMI.

Ahimsa, The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, American as Paneer Pie, and Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame are books full of hope and joy, books that empower readers to speak out against hate, and books that I hope kids everywhere can see themselves in.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what’s my thing about Bollywood? My thing was I was a Bollywood screenwriter for over a decade, working on the writing teams for several Hindi films.

Look for That Thing About Bollywood on May 18, 2021. 

Simon and Schuster's Description: 

Bollywood takes over in this contemporary, magical middle grade novel about an Indian American girl whose world turns upside down when she involuntarily starts bursting into glamorous song-and-dance routines during everyday life.

You know how in Bollywood when people are in love, they sing and dance from the mountaintops? Eleven-year-old Sonali wonders if they do the same when they’re breaking up. The truth is, Sonali’s parents don’t get along, and it looks like they might be separating.

Sonali’s little brother, Ronak, is not taking the news well, constantly crying. Sonali would never do that. It’s embarrassing to let out so many feelings, to show the world how not okay you are. But then something strange happens, something magical, maybe. When Sonali gets upset during a field trip, she can’t bury her feelings like usual—instead, she suddenly bursts into a Bollywood song-and-dance routine about why she’s upset!

The next morning, much to her dismay, Sonali’s reality has shifted. Things seem brighter, almost too bright. Her parents have had Bollywood makeovers. Her friends are also breaking out into song and dance. And somehow, everyone is acting as if this is totally normal.

Sonali knows something has gone wrong, and she suspects it has something to do with her own mismanaged emotions. Can she figure it out before it’s too late?

Born and raised in the Midwest, Supriya Kelkar learned Hindi as a child by watching three Hindi movies a week. She is a screenwriter who has worked on the writing teams for several Hindi films and one Hollywood feature. Supriya’s books include Ahimsa, The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, American as Paneer Pie, and That Thing about Bollywood, among others. Visit her online at


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