Journalist Meer’s first novel is as gaudy and melodramatic as the movies she evokes in her title. American-born Sabah’s parents convince her to visit India, and she is thrust into the unravelling lives of an American-born friend, now married to an Indian and that of her famous movie star uncle and his family. The story is woven from the characters’ inner monologues and a narrative that describes the seamiest excesses of wealth, poverty, sexism, racial consciousness, deception and hypocrisy with the pace and detachment of a journalist. The scandals of homosexuality and infidelity seem tired as plot motivators, the characters more like archetypes than the self-involved yet complex people they might be. But a wife-burning and the tragedy of Sabah’s lovelorn gay cousin are shocking—the senseless loss, so emotionally portrayed, will leave readers tearful, angry and, like Sabah, a bit relieved to be back in America after all.