Posts Tagged ‘book’


It’d been a long time since I laughed out loud while reading a book. A really long time. But Diptakirti Chaudhuri’s latest book has just about managed that. I laughed, chuckled, and nodded my head several times in the midst of reading the book. “BollyBook – The Big Book of Hindi Movie Trivia” is Diptakirti’s third book, the first one being one on cricket, and the second being the precursor to BollyBook, “Kitnay Aadmi Thay” (KAT). It was a genre shifting Bollywood book in the sense that it did not chronicle the travails of film making or profile some specific stars, but it just focused on Bollywood trivia and did a fine job of that.

BollyBook is expected to release in October, 2014. The initial idea, as Diptakirti says on his blog (, was to pitch BB (indulge me as I acronymize the book titles) as a sequel to KAT, but then his publisher at Penguin suggested the idea of a combining the two as a comprehensive and definitive book rather than having a sequel. And thus, BB was reborn in a new avatar. Just like some Bollywood characters do, some would say.

With 19 sections and nearly 460 pages that are packed with interesting trivia and more, the book can definitely live up to the claim of being the definitive book of Bollywood trivia. Good, bad, funny, dark, all sorts of trivia make up this book. Written in his inimitable style, often sparkling with humour and wit, the book is a paean of sorts to Bollywood.

Today I may count myself a fan of filmmakers such as Scorscese, Linklater, or Fincher, but my first introduction to cinema came through the works of Manmohan Desai, Yash Chopra, and others. Back then, we didn’t have a VCR or DVD at home. There were no multiplexes. Going to the movies meant walking to the neighborhood theater, 15 minutes away from home, standing in queue for “first day first shows” or “matinee shows” for a 10 or 20-rupee ticket. Satellite (cable) TV was not yet introduced in my little town. Regular TV broadcast used to a mix of very old to medium old movies. Religious festivals often heralded special community-screenings in an open-air environment where a projectionist would “show” the picture on a vertically mounted white chaddar. Regardless of the venue or the medium, we watched in awe as those larger-than-life stories unfolded on the screen. Chitrahaar, the weekly programme showcasing hit Bollywood songs, was our reason for going “TGIF”! This, in essence, is what Diptakirti would call a pre-credit backstory compression (hint: see the book to understand what this term really means) to explain my fascination for Bollywood.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s kid. The book has something for everyone. The earlier generations will nod their head at the various retro references, while the newer ones will easily connect with the new age trivia. Although the table of contents mentions lists, the book isn’t packed with boring ones, instead many trivia are presented in anecdotal form, with a surprise twist here and there. Did you know for instance that the Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha acted as second lead opposite Dharmendra in a movie named Izzat? Or that Dev Anand was an employee of the Indian Postal Service and perchance grew to know of Gurudutt who lived in the same chawl as him and became thick with him? Many more such interesting nuggets fill up the book including those about movies you thought you knew in and out, only to discover that you actually don’t.

A remarkable trait of the book is that it isn’t restricted to mentioning trivia regarding only actors and actresses, but also takes a good look at the others who play an important part in a movie’s success. In a chapter covering regional superstars, for example, the last para brings to fore the most successful crossover by a regional musician who has gone on to make a name for himself in the international arena. A. R. Rahman. That’s who.

bollybook2There’s also a whole chapter devoted to films within films, called Meta. The amount of research the author must have undertaken for this book can be gleaned from this chapter alone where he not only recounts meta and self-referencing films/directors but also points out bloopers!

All trivia and no interestingness makes a dull book. And Diptakirti is no dull author. He makes neat use of quizzes, Honorable Mentions and little Alerts (Eg, Subtle Mythology Alert) to break the pattern now and then. Chapters are also occasionally peppered with photos and posters.

All in all, for Rs. 370 – paperback or Rs. 318 (Kindle), this book packs quite a punch, just like some of our Bollywood films. If you count yourself as a Bollywood fan, this book is a must-have for your bookshelf.

Footnote: Our very own mFC finds a small mention in the section on low-profile debuts of actors.


(pic courtesy – from Diptakirti’s blog)

Gangs Of Wasseypur – The Making Of A Modern Classic” by Jigna Kothari and Supriya Madangarli is finally out. Interestingly, the book also has the screenplay of both the parts of the film. Jigna tells us more about the book, and scroll down to read an excerpt from it. And if you find it interesting, have also given links below it from where you can order it online.

Gangs of Wasseypur cover_3The book captures director Anurag Kashyap’s organised chaos during the making of this darkly comic tale of alley gangsters and their absurdities and idiosyncrasies. As the film traverses a fine path between myths and memories, fact and fiction, the book delineates these elements and introduces the men and women who inspired their celluloid counterparts.

It also shares the director’s exploration of his roots while making the film, and looks at the components of the director and crew’s vision of the design, soundtrack and songs, and most importantly, the locations that give the film its sense of time, and at times, irony.  The final pieces of the puzzle are blended in drawing upon narratives and anecdotes from crew and cast of the film.

Beginning with Anurag Kashyap’s foreword, and ending with the screenplay of GOW Part I and II, the book is divided into seven chapters and has some on location pictures as well. The seven chapters are as follows –

  1. Three Streets and a Saga
  2. Between Fact and Fiction
  3. The Not-so Stars
  4. How Anurag shot his Movie
  5. There will be Blood
  6. Wrap up
  7. In First Person: Anurag Kashyap

(On location pic from the book)


Excerpt from the book

– You can order the book from Flipkart (click here) which is giving 25% discount (Rs 299) or from Infibeam (click here) which is giving 27% (Rs 291) discount. The book is priced at Rs 399.

A new book titled Mother Maiden Mistress – Women in Hindi Cinema, 1950-2010 is out in the market. The co-writer of the book, Jigna Kothri, writes about it and shares an excerpt from it.

The first woman protagonist in Hindi cinema was Taramati, in Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra (1913) enacted by a man since cinema was considered a profession beneath the dignity of ‘respectable’ women, even if she was playing a pious, and ideal wife on screen. It would seem Hindi cinema has come long way since then, though, the journey that Mother Maiden Mistress makes through six decades of cinema, finds that the more things have changed, the more they have remained the same.

The book  brings to life the women characters that peopled cinema and the popular imagination, and shaped fashion and culture. The book records and reviews the woman in Hindi cinema – the mythical, the Sati-Savitri, the rebel, the avant-garde and the contemporary. To get a better idea of where these characters come from, the book shows the society that the the filmmakers lived in, the socio-political milieu of the particular decade. We look at what kind of films were made during that decade and what were the dominant features of women protagonists at that time. In this context, certain protagonist are chosen and dicussed in detail.

It’s not just the character that is discussed, one section of the chapter, looks at the way women were dressed in the films of the decade, the high and lows of fashion in Hindi cinema. There is also the first-person narratives of a leading actress from each decade – Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh, Hema Malini, Shabana Azmi, Madhuri Dixit and Rani Mukherjee – all close-up examinations of how some of the iconic characters of Hindi cinema came to be.

The following is an excerpt of Chapter 3: Seventies – Look Back In Anger. These paragraphs are from the section that discusses the roles accorded to women characters in the popular films of the decade and attempts to record and review not just the stereotypes but also the exceptions.

“Films dominated by male superstars often reduced women to uni-dimensional figures. The action films of the seventies revolved around action/angst-ridden, disenfranchised hero/heroes who took over all the rasa/bhava of the narrative. The women were passive constructs whose fate and circumstances lead to the hero’s heroism. The multi-starrer phenomenon – films like Manmohan Desai’s Amar Akbar

 Anthony, Suhaag, Dharam Veer and others – further reduced the woman’s impact on the narrative. Love stories and big-budget musicals were no exception. The same was seen in buddy films where the so-called feminine emotions and feminized virtues of love and sacrifice usually accorded to the heroine were taken over by the heroes.

In Hindi films, friendship among males always involves tender emotions. The friends are separated by circumstances or a woman, and the film usually ends with one sacrificing his life/love for the other.

The men would have their respective romantic interest keeping in mind the interests of heterosexuality. Sholay (1975) became the definitive and probably the first ‘action-buddy’ film in which the two heroes, united against the forces of injustice, carried the narrative.

To seek a definitive feminist or even a progressive representation of women characters in mainstream cinema in the seventies would be futile. However, several traits were seen in women characters that were definitely a breakthrough in commercial cinema.

Yash Chopra’s heroines were well-sketched, realistic individuals who could compromise but never suffer to be victims. In Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Pooja (Raakhee) and Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) choose duty over love and decide to part. Pooja accepts the new relationship in her life and grows into the role of doting mother, wife and career woman whereas Vijay continues to nurse his hurt over his lost love and neglects his wife. His wife, Anjali (Waheeda Rehman), married to an indifferent man and forced to play second fiddle to her own daughter, has also to come to terms with the guilt of abandoning her first-born child. Her instinctive reaction on meeting, for the first time, her adult daughter born out of wedlock is to hide the truth from her husband. Pinky (Neetu Singh), that daughter, puts her marriage plans on hold when she learns about her biological mother and embarks on a journey to meet her.

In Trishul, the heroines Geeta (Raakhee) and Sheetal (Hema Malini) have their individual personalities, being neither subservient to nor dependent on the heroes. Kaala Patthar, a film about a man’s cowardice and redemption (the story is partly based on Dhanbad’s Chasnala Colliery tragedy in 1975 that killed 372 miners and on Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim), did find space for characters such as Anita (Parveen Babi), a photo-journalist investigating the conditions of coal miners, Dr Sudha Sen (Raakhee), who serves the mining colony, and the street vendor Channo (Neetu Singh). Nisha (Raakhee), a single woman and successful professional in Doosra Aadmi  (1977), falls in love with a much younger, married man who resembles her late beloved.

Significantly, most of these characters were created by Salim–Javed, whose iconic creation in Sholay  – the loud-mouthed tangewali Basanti (Hema Malini) – was a departure from the stereotypical village belle. Earning her own keep, she certainly does not believe that women should be seen and not heard, and does not surrender to her fate, choosing to fight instead. Hema Malini, dubbed the ‘Dream Girl’, was one of the rare heroines who pulled off action scenes in films such as Seeta Aur Geeta  (1972) and Paraya Dhan  (1971) in which the heroes occupy the usually feminine passive space.

Films in which the women not only take control of their life and their space but are active participants in the fight against the system are rare. Usually, the heroines either hold the hero back or garland and send him off to the battleground. There were rare examples, such as some roles essayed by Asha Parekh, which often broke away from the stereotype. In Aan Milo Sajna  (1970), the lead character pretends to be betrothed to the villain but falls in love with the hero and actively pursues him, complete with an eve- or rather Adam-teaser of a song: ‘Palat meri jaan’. It is the hero who is suspected of immoral behavior and has to prove himself to the heroine – a reversal of Sita’s taint.” 

DETAILS : Written by Bhawana Somaaya, Jigna Kothari and Supriya Madangarli.

Publishing Date: 2012.  Publisher: Harper Collins.  Number of Pages: 272. Language: English. Price – Rs 299

We will be reviewing the book soon. If you are interested, you can order it from Flipkart here or from Infibeam here.

When i pinged Kartik Krishnan on GTalk yesterday, he told me has busy reading a new book. Film book ? Yeah. As always, i asked him if he could write a (recco) post and as always, he replied with a hmmmmm, which is a difficult expression to decipher. What to write about a book where every page is delicious ? Now that’s a genuine excuse, and difficult argument to win. So he wrote something and typed some excerpts from the book. Knowing him so well, I should have guessed it ( Click here to read Kundan Shah on Renu Saluja. And click here for  Guru Dutt on Classics and Cash) Typing out excerpts from a book may sound simple but is really a painstaking job. And is also a service for less privileged human beings who don’t have access to the book but are e-connected. And now his side of the story and more..

He asked me to ‘review’ this book written by Jai Arjun Singh (a superb writer-blogger who should write as frequently about cinema as literature – cos when he does – he nails it)

“Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro – Seriously Funny since 1983 – By Jai Arjun Singh” – click here to buy it

Now how does one try an encapsulate more than 250 pages devoted to the making of one of the oft quoted cult classic films of our times, in about 500 words ? How much trivia do we JBDY Bhakts know already, that we need a book to tell us ? What good could it possible tell which would be new ?

Turns out – Lots !!! My knowledge of the film is a measly 1% of what is there in the book. And I claimed to be one of the biggest JBDY bhakts among my circles-have even met Kundan Shah and tried to squeeze out maximum information out of him on the film. Clearly I’m wrong 😛

Trivias, Background history of the players, the director, writer, actors, scripting, NFDC, pre production, fights, troubles, ultra low budget shooting, post production, release & reviews, the legacy – it has it all – all summed up in an unputdownable read.

And when you read such a revelation – how do you write a post on it ?

May be stop endlessly raving about it and simply give some snippets of the book. May be hope that seduced by the ‘trailer’ of the book, people will go and buy it. Because at 188 bucks (film books normally cost Rs 500,800,1500 or more) this book is a steal. Highly Recommended. Cash on delivered to you doorstep in 3 days! Flipkart rocks!

So instead of a recco post, am transcribing quarter of a chapter here & there, hoping that this will contribute to the sales of the book. I hope I’m not offending the author of the book or the director.

Over to the book’s Intro –

The Artist as a Store Attendant (talks about the initial days of Kundan Shah- the humor streaks – the beginning transcribed below)

“Take this hypothetical situation”, Kundan Shah tells me at our first meeting in his Bandra office. “You want to write a book about this film I made years ago. So you call repeatedly and ask me to meet you and I keep putting you off, and you are getting fed up but you aren’t in any position to say anything. You’re the underdog in our relationship.”

“Then, finally, I do call you over at a very inconvenient time, say 10.30 at night. You travel a great distance to get here, but then find that I’m busy-I have people over. I brush you off with the words :”Hey listen, can you come later?”. It’s an inconsequential matter for me – your book isn’t going to make my 25 year old film more popular than it already is- but for you, it’s as if the world has come crashing down.”

“But you don’t want the people sitting around to see that you’re hurt. So you put on a brave face, turn the whole thing into a joke. “Okay, sir,” you say with your dead pan expression, “should I go back and come again at one am?” So now your humiliation has been transferred into another medium -sarcasm, whatever. And it’s for me to respond because, suddenly, I’ve become the butt of the joke”

Comedy and cruelty often go hand in hand, stresses the man who wrote and directed a very funny film that ends with its two most likeable characters heading for the hangman’s noose. “When a person slips and falls, he might -speaking realistically – have broken his hip, or worse, but people laugh. You create humour out of something painful.”

The Corpse, The Chess Game And The Flush Handle

Given how popular the ‘laash’ sequences would become, it’s a pity that the crew never got around to shooting some of the zanier scenes with the dead body, especially after the inebriated Ahuja takes it home with him. The scenes at the guesthouse were to include one where Ahuja – eager to entertain this strangely shy mehmaan who doesn’t say a word-initiates a game of chess with the body.Naturally, the drunkard ends up losing to the dead man. (Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal had established a precedent for Death winning cinematic chess games, though it is unlikely that Kundan and Ranjit Kapoor had this in mind when they wrote the scene).

Ranjit also fondly remembers a sight gag that begins with Ahuja encouraging the corpse to have some whiskey. When the drink inevitably spills on the floor, the builder slurs, “Arre yaar, tu yahaan susu kar raha hai? (‘You’re peeing on the floor?’), but regains his courteousness and, in the tradition of the good Indian host, carries his guest to the bathroom. There he puts the deceased commissioner’s hands through the flush chain, comes back to his room and falls asleep. The next day, when Vinod and Sudhir are looking for the body in the guesthouse, they are alerted by the osund of the flush: the body has been upright in the bathroom all night, the weight of its arm pulling down the flush handle every time the tank fills. Rinse and repeat, so to speak.

The climactic chase offered endless possibilities for droll use of the laash, one of them being a planned scene where Vinod and Sudhir disguise it as a beggar asking for alms. In a fine touch, Tarneja, Ahuja and the other crooks – who have built a career by cheating people out of crores of rupees – interrupt the chase to conscientiously put money in the ‘beggar’s’ bowl. But pehraps the funniest laash moment that didn’t make it to the final cut was a scene where the partners hide the body in a doctor’s clinic. The physician, described in the script as ‘a Jiri Menzel type’ (a reference to the Czech director of such movies as Closely Watched Trains), gives the body a complete check-up (temperature, blood pressure, pulse etc) and then proclaims, in the self assured, avuncular manner of the typical Hindi-film doctor : “Ghabraane ki koi baat nahin hai. Do din mein theek ho jaoge” (“Nothing to worry about. You’ll be fine in two days”)

Naseeruddin Shah Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai ? The Mirror Crack’d

But the next scene with which Naseer had problems might have worked better if he had been allowed to have his way. This is a sequence that ranks among the films weakest, most awkward moments – the faux mushy exchange between Vinod and Shobha as they stand in front of the mirror and she plays victim (‘Main ek akaylee abhla aurat hoon …’) to mine his romantic-hero feelings and manipulate him into helping her.

Actually the scene begins with Vinod trying to cosy up to Shobha, who swiftly makes it clear that theirs is a ‘professional sambandh’, that of ‘maalik aur naukar’ (hence the famous shot of Shobha placing her foot under Vinod’s chin). But then, realising how important these photographers are to her grand design, she changes tack. Some of the dialogue that follows – “Mere sapnon ka sathi, main bhi bhookhi hoon…pyaar ki” and “Suno mere dil ki dhadkan” – plays like a parody of mainstream melodrama.

When Kundan wrote the scene, his idea was that it would be a game of charades between Shobha and Vinod. Obviously, Shobha is the devious one, but Vinod isn’t entirely innocent either: he wants the fun of being seduced by this attractive woman but at the same time he vaguely senses that this might be a trap and he doesn’t know how far he can trust her. The scene was to be driven by this conflict. In fact, it was the thought of this scene which had inspired Kundan to cast Bhakti Barve – when he saw her on stage in Hands Up!, he realized that she was an actress who could handle the required nuance.

However when it came to shooting, Naseer said he wanted to play the scene seriously – Vinod would take everything Shobha said at face value and fall hook, line and sinker for her trap. A major arguement followed.

Naseer: There has to be a serious moment between these two!

Kundan: I agree. But this isn’t it! The serious moment can come afterwards, once she has backstabbed them.

Naseer: Let’s put it to a vote. The whole unit can decide whether I should play this scene straight or crooked.

So everyone voted and it turned out that almost everyone was on Naseer’s side.

Kundan: This is ridiculous. So what if everyone agrees with you. I’m the bloody writer of this thing and I’m also the director – I’m using my power to overrule the vote.

Naseer: Fine, then I won’t have dinner!

Okay, it probably didn’t happen exactly that way, but the upshot is that things were threatening to fall apart. As it is, this was never going to be an easy or straightforward take. When you are shooting a scene where two actors face a mirror together and the viewer sees only their reflections, the camera set-up is complicated. The actors have to look at predetermined spots rather than at each other, which can make performing the scene somewhat tricky since they can’t directly respond to each others facial expressions. A lot of preparation is required, and it is probably a good idea if the overall mood on the sets is congenial.

Eventually, Naseer agreed to play the scene the director’s way – and even had his food – but the results of the disagreements are sadly visible in the film. The sequence begins very well – Bhakti is outstanding in the shot where she realizes that she has to put on an act for this lovelorn fool and slowly starts drawing the curtains – but it quickly deteriorates into something clunky and inconsistent. Temporarily deprived of his simplicity, Vinod has a sly, cocky look about him that goes against the character, and Naseer doesn’t look at all convinced about what he is doing. Watching the scene today, one cringes at the sight of one of India’s finest actors so obviously out of sorts.

But this is the only scene where the actor’s discomfiture shows: though his role in the film is relatively subdued compared to those of Ravi Baswani, Om Puri and Satish Shah. He has a gala time in scenes such as the one where he pretends to be an American reporter for DeMello’s benefit, and as the fake ‘Duryodhana’ in the Mahabharata scene. In some ways, his achievement is all the more notable because he wasn’t to the genre born, so to speak. Besides, his commitment to the movie never flagged. Crew members remember him as being constantly encouraging towards the younger members of the unit, and very keen not to be treated as a big-shot (which he was, in the context of non mainstream cinema). Anytime there was a problem with money – as there frequently was – he would tell Kundan: “Take this out of my salary”. His attitude was emblematic of the overall approach to the making of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: fume and curse about specific things going wrong, but then get over it and put in your best.

PS – This post is NOT sponsored by the author, the publishers of the book or by Flipkart. If you are good, we will shout out from roof top and let the world know.


Also, click on the play button to check out an interview of Jai Arjun Singh…talking about the book…

This is the first still of Ashutosh Gowariker’s new film Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, which has tweeted by Abhishek Bachchan. It also stars Deepika Padukone and Sikander Kher. The film is produced by PVR Pictures and is almost complete.

The film is based on journalist Manini Chatterjee’s book Do and Die on Chittagong uprising. Its pitched as a period thriller in which Abhishek plays the title role of revolutionary Surjya Sen, popularly known as Masterda.

Click here and here to read two reviews of the book Do and Die. The first one was published in Outlook and the second is from The Sunday Tribune. The Outlook review is copy-pasted  here also. Just scroll down. The review follows….

Our history texts hardly have place today for the Chittagong armoury raids, then described by a British bureaucrat as having “no parallel in Bengal since the Mutiny of 1857”. This well researched book was thus necessary. Chatterjee has tracked down masses of documents relating to the raids and met surviving members of Surjya Sen’s (Masterda) army, to produce a gripping narrative. The book’s signal triumph is that it never tries to hide the fact that this entire amateurish adventure was a series of tragic blunders.

Sen’s men took control of the armoury, but found only arms, no ammunition; they didn’t know that arms and ammunition are never stored together. A young revolutionary forgot a simple truth – that you don’t light a matchstick while standing in a pool of petrol – and threw the entire field plan into disarray, something from which it never recovered. One of the leaders, Ananta Singh, was emotionally unstable. Another, Pritilata Waddadar, was driven by a death wish. And finally, Masterda was leading a bunch of schoolboys – the youngest was only 13 – into war against the British Army.These boys never lost faith. On Jalalabad’s hills they fought Gurkha machine-gunners with muskets. The British threw their bodies into a pit and mass-burnt them. Gandhi had not a word to say about them, reserving his commiserations for the mother of Vithaldas, who, as part of Gandhi’s anti-liquor campaign, tried chopping a toddy tree and fatally wounded himself. Chatterjee captures the injustice in one reverberating sentence: “Even martyrdom, it would seem, lies in the ideology of the bestower.” 

You could call these people suicidal fools, but their courage shines through every page of this valuable book. Only two complaints: towards the end, Chatterjee can’t keep her political biases out, and she omits the survivor’s later lives (some had very chequered careers). But overlook that. Read this book and give it to your children, so they know about these misguided warriors who briefly halted the British empire in its tracks. 

Om Puri Nandita PuriFirst lesson : Don’t marry a journalist if you are famous and have lots of bones in closet. Because once a journalist is always a journalist.

Second lesson : And if you marry a journalist, never ask him/her to write your biography!

Jokes apart, three cheers to Nandita Puri for the tell-all biography of her husband Om Puri. Not everyone can dare to do so. And its almost impossible when you are related to your subject. The book (Unlikely Hero : Om Puri) is not yet out, and we are not sure if its really going to reveal all, but if the film is going to be anything close to what the teaser is promising, we are looking forward.

In an industry where everything is in closet and where we are all holier-than-thou you can only expect some fakeographies! And so this is going to be refrshing change.

Tehelka has published excerpts from the book. Scroll down to read or you can click here. And yes,  Shiney Ahuja is not the only bai-sexual! Ask Mahesh Bhatt, he can give you few more names.

Of a pump and a bed

Om grew up in an environment almost devoid of women. His mother, Tara Devi was the only woman he knew for years until he reached his Mamaji’s place in Sanaur. [T]here were no girls of his age and the only women he knew were his maternal aunts and the maids. So it was but natural for Om to take a liking to older women. He must have been around fourteen when he was ‘deflowered’. A fifty-five-year-old woman, Santi, used to provide general help in his maternal uncle’s house. Twice a day, water was drawn into the house with a hand pump and Om was asked to assist Santi in the job. Days went by and Om kept pressing the pump backwards and forwards, till one day he realized that Santi would first touch, then caress and finally fondle him during the task. The young boy began to get turned on without knowing what was happening to him.

One day there was a power failure and in the dark, Santi grabbed Om, who was by then totally aroused. They slept together and the fourteen-yearold felt really great having ‘come of age’. Dark, greying, with a toothless grin, always dressed in half-torn salwars, Santi was Om’s first lover.

The fourteen-year-old’s lust for Santi spilled over into a kind of attraction towards another older woman. This was his badi maami or older maternal aunt, Gomti Devi. It was perhaps this infatuation that led Om to caress the exposed navel of his other aunt, Satya Devi, one summer night on the family terrace under a moonlit sky. Though it was the younger aunt he was physically caressing, it was actually the aura of his older aunt that had overwhelmed him…

Whatever the reason, his naïve act led to his shame and expulsion from the Kapoor household and Om was left to fend for himself.

The maid he almost married

[In 1986, when his girlfriend Mala left him, Om was living in an apartment in a complex called Trishul where his] staff consisted of a mother and daughter duo from Andhra Pradesh, Amma and her daughter Lakshmi. When they first came to Trishul, they stank a lot as they used to work in the local Versova fish market. It took a lot of coaxing on Om’s part and several rounds of scrubbing with soap on their part to get rid of the stink.

Initially, Lakshmi and Amma used to serve part-time but seeing Om’s hapless predicament with his nephews after Mala’s departure, they stayed on to work full-time. Between them, they did all the housework and Lakshmi took pains to manage things well. Also, whenever Om was at home, she made an extra effort to cook special food for him and walked around the house coyly. She even flirted with him playfully. Om did not fail to notice all this.

Lakshmi had a dark and voluptuous matronly appearance and Om found her suitably attractive. Thus, their short-term physical relationship began. A few months later, Om realized that Lakshmi was getting quite attached to him. And since he was feeling grateful to her, on the spur of the moment, he decided to marry her… Om thought he too could set an example for society. Or maybe he felt his reel life, where he acted out socially meaningful roles, should spill over into his real life.

‘Thank God I woke up quickly from my idealistic stupor and did not commit to Lakshmi. We had nothing, absolutely nothing in common,’ Om says. Lakshmi soon began to get very possessive about him… Om did not like this and decided to terminate their short affair. Lakshmi, however, was not one to take it lying down. [She] tried to climb onto the terrace rail and announced she was going to jump seven storeys down. When Om pulled her back, she yelled hysterically, ‘Nahin, mujhe marne do! (No, let me die!)’ Om could not have asked for a more melodramatic scene of a break-up than this!

First smell of money

On a holiday to Delhi, Naseer prodded him to go to Pune, but funds were the main hindrance that kept Om away. He applied for a Punjab government scholarship which did not come immediately. In the meantime, a friend from NSD, Neelam Mansingh asked her friend, a businessman, Jugnu Singh to sponsor Om. Jugnu agreed and on that assurance Om joined FTII. But Jugnu’sfunds never materialized…

Om got in and was able to manage the two years’ acting course in Pune due to the kindness of some friends and teachers. One such person was Girish Karnad. During the interview, students were asked to recite two passages, one of their choice and one that had been sent by the institute. Om’s passage was Mark Anthony’s speech from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. Om was good. But the interview board wondered why they should take Om as a student. ‘He doesn’t look like a hero, nor like a villain, nor a comedian. What use will he be of to the industry?’ they chorused.

‘‘That is not our problem,’ Karnad, who was then the director of FTII, insisted… During his first summer vacation, Karnad recommended Om to B.V. Karanth to play the lead in his hour-long children’s film, Chor Chor Chhup Jaaye. That was Om Puri’s first film and he played a vagabond. His first co-actor was a monkey called Ramu. He made friends with Ramu and sported an unkempt look to go with his character in the film. When the payment was handed to him, Om did not know how to react. He had never seen so much money together – all of three thousand rupees! But he ensured that the money saw him through the entire FTII course.

Tehelka has also done an interview with Nandita, and when asked if she had to hold back anything, she said “Yes, I guess so. I’m used to profiling people, but it’s different as a wife. Even though I did reveal a lot, I did have to hold a little back. At first, he was very apprehensive. He was not very keen that I do the biography. He had asked me to do it in the beginning when I was a young journalist interviewing him. He was just conspiring to spend more time with me. Once I became his wife, he didn’t need such ploys. Later on, it was my decision. Om is constantly talking, so in a way it is more like an autobiography than a biography. I’m saying all the things Om has been meaning to say all these years.

You can read the full interview here.

In today’s Mumbai Mirror, Om Puri has given an interview to SKJha and reacted to his wife’s book and all the stories of his sexual adventures. But since its by SKJha, we take everything with a pinch bowl of salt. To quote Om Puri…

I don’t care  if she’s my wife. I won’t let her get away with it. My wife has reduced a very important and sacred part of my life to cheap and lurid gossip. I had shared these dark secrets with my wife as all husbands do. If she chose to make them public at least she should’ve made sure to maintain a dignity about experiences that are a valuable part of my life. Has she forgotten that I have a standing in society and I’ve worked hard to achieve all that I have today? I won’t allow her to throw it all away for the sake of sensationalism.

You can read the full interview here. This all seems like great publicity and buzz for the book just before its release. We are booking our copy for sure. Because Om Puri still remains one of our all time favourite actors!

Irrfan KhanIf rumour mills are to be believed, the news is true! And as they say, the only Khan they know in Hollywood is Irrfan Khan!

Irrfan Khan has been signed on to star opposite Cate Blanchett in the film Indian Summer. The film is an adaptation of the book Indian Summer : The Secret Historty Of The End by London based writer and historian Alex Von Tunzelmann.

The film is about the romance between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and wife of Lord Mountbatten, Edwina Mountbatten. Hugh Grant will star as Lord Mountabatten, Cate Blanchett as Edwina Mountbatten and Irfan Khan as Jawaharlal Nehru. It will be directed by Joe Wright (The Soloist, Atonement).

The buzz is that the  script of the film is currently with I & B Minstry for clearance, and the Ministry want the romance/sex scenes to be toned down. On CNBC TV18’s Karan Thapar show last night, Nayantara Sehgal, author & Nehru’s niece said that anybody who claims that they had a sexual relationship would be conjecturing. What they had was a long and lasting relationship of love and friendship. It was a rare relationship based on meeting of minds. They had respect and admiration for each other.

Cant find the video link to the interview but you can read more about it here.

The Japanese WifeRemember those good ol’ days of pen friendship ? And if you were born before the internet era and ever experienced the joy of pen friendship, then you must read Kunal Basu’s story The Japanese Wife. Its one of the most beautiful love stories I have read in recent times. Simple, serene, heartfelt and fascinating. The book is a collection of 12 short stories.

BTW, I bought the book because I loved the cover. The paper quality and the pic looks and feels gorgeous (not so in the pic that I have posted on the left). Call me mad but I love all these, and there is nothing like the smell of a new book. Instead of reading between the lines, try putting your nose between the pages once!

Aparna Sen’s new film is based on the same story and it has the same title The Japanese Wife. The film stars Rahul Bose, Raima Sen, Moushumi Chatterjee and Japanese actress Chigusa Takaku. It is in English, Bengali and Japanese. And here is the synopsis of the film….

The Japanese Wife2Snehmoy (Rahul Bose) and Miyage (Chigusa Takaku) are pen friends who exchange wedding vows through letters. Fifteen years pass but they never meet. Yet the bond of marriage is strong between them. This unusual relationship comes under a cloud when a young widow, Sandhya (Raima Sen), comes to stay with Snehmoy along with her eight-year-old son. Snehmoy and the little boy bond and the arithmetic teacher discovers the joy of palpable bonds and fatherhood. There develops an inexplicable thread of understanding with Sandhya too. But what happens to the love story of Senhmoy and Miyage ? Will not spoil it for you. Read the book or wait for the film.

Lil late on this but just figured out from a friend that the trailer of the film is already online. Take a look. Not sure why they are using the word “grand” in the trailer. Its just the opposite…its intimate! The film has been ready for quite sometime but the producers (SaReGaMa) has been sitting and shitting on it! No clue why!

Amitabh BachchanEnough to make an explosive headline ? Here’s more –

I feel that Amitabh has never been a loyal friend. Loyalty has never been his characteristic trait.

And some more –

 But slowly as Amitabh got involved in his career, he himself became the centre of all attention which was very difficult for Jaya to swallow. After all, at the time of their marriage she was the star and he the also-ran. The change in the power position within the marriage as Amitabh became successful also changed the soft, intense and emotional romance which Jaya and Amitabh had.

Dont know who is this Susmita Dasgupta but feel like giving her a bear hug! Because finally someone has dared to speak up on BIG B. She has written a book on Bachchan, who is also the subject of her PhD.

Have always felt that Bachchan is damn fake and manipulative, on every aspect of his life, much like his fake wig which is on 24 X7! He just pretends to be holier-than-thou. Scratch the surface and you see a completely different person. Dont get me wrong. Am not talking about the actor, just the man called Amitabh Bachchan. Wish Khalid Mohamed would write a book on his Dadduji someday. I would be the first one too book a copy! Anyway, back to the topic. Click here (or scroll down) to read the full TOI interview of Susmita Dasgupta. On Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Rekha, Abhishek Bachchan and more! 

Is there an Amitabh ‘before’ and ‘after’ ABCL?
There is definitely a before and after ABCL Amitabh. The ABCL tragedy, like all stupendous failures have split Amitabh into a before and after image. The trauma of having failed appears to have drastically changed the person whose image was that of the invincible.

What is Amitabh, the husband, like?
As I could observe, and at that point of time I was nearly 20 years younger, that Amitabh and Jaya were ideologically apart. For Jaya, there was a distress about why Amitabh did the films that he did. Jaya would have loved it were Amitabh to remain in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee camp and graduated later to Satyajit Ray (Manik Kaku for her; Jaya is exceptionally well-connected). But Amitabh went into rather “cheap stuff” with which she was not comfortable. To the best of my mind, this was the basic reason for a kind of stand-off. Jaya and Amitabh were dutifully husband and wife but I felt that the romance in the marriage was lacking. Also Jaya is a ‘Bong’ woman, the oldest among three sisters, and most probably the brightest, daughter to a doting father and that too an important one. She is Bhaduri, an upper caste Barendri Brahmin, who are very proud people. But slowly as Amitabh got involved in his career, he himself became the centre of all attention which was very difficult for Jaya to swallow. After all, at the time of their marriage she was the star and he the also-ran. The change in the power position within the marriage as Amitabh became successful also changed the soft, intense and emotional romance which Jaya and Amitabh had.

How is the superstar with his kids? Is his rapport different with Abhishek and Shweta?
With his children, Amitabh is doting, pampering, blind with affection and only pretending to be firm, but very interested to be a part of their lives and eager to go to any lengths for their well-being. The daughter is interesting, I am not so sure that she feels the same way towards her parents as they feel towards her. I get this strange feeling that Shweta is seeking to move out of her parents’ very doting shadow and that marriage helped her have some independence that her extra protective parents robbed her of. Abhishek loves and would love to continue to be under the parents’ protection.

What about the Rekha episode? Is there reason to believe the affair happened, despite Amitabh’s denials?
Yes, it is a matter of great speculation for me as well. I always sided with Amitabh when he denied all on Rekha. But, only recently, I saw this television footage in which Amitabh suddenly got up and moved away as Rekha came near where he was seated. This makes me believe that yes, they did have an affair. The sudden getting up and moving away was a giveaway. It was almost a pose of fleeing from Rekha… why would a man want to do that if he is not guilty of something? I believe Amitabh knew from day one that he wasn’t serious about Rekha. Also, he’s very, very class conscious… Rekha was perhaps an ego trip.

How do you think Abhishek fares, being Amitabh and Jaya’s son, and now Aishwarya’s husband?
Abhishek reminds me of Prince Salim and he has the Prince Salim syndrome. In today’s world, Abhishek’s appeal lies in a certain sense of being chaperoned, someone who seeks and has security and, on the basis of an assured lifestyle, can afford to be nice to one and all. Just as Amitabh’s image crashed with failure, Abhishek’s image can crash if the shadows of persons chaperoning him are taken away. The image contains the shadows of the biggies that he nests among.

Was he behind Abhishek joining films?
Yes, he was totally behind Abhishek’s joining films and if I were to have my opinion, then to push him to cinema. That’s why I say that Abhishek is prince Salim, the reluctant heir of Akbar when his heart was away in Venice, Rome and even Spain.

Amitabh is projected today as the loyal friend… what drives his friendships with the Anil Ambani and Amar Singh?
I feel that Amitabh has never been a loyal friend. Loyalty has never been his characteristic trait. Anwar Ali and Amjad Khan are at least two who Amitabh never even acknowledged. I have seen him rather stand-offish with Javed, Salim, Prakash Mehra, the persons who made him. Amitabh never attended Hrishida’s funeral. He refuses to acknowledge Desh Mukherjee or Tinnu Anand. So, he looks for friends as far as he has something to gain from them.

The Amar Singh episode is strange. He must be really gaining something out of Anil Ambani and Amar Singh and that “gain” has some connection with the “loss” in terms of money.

Why do you think he is still working? Is it insecurity, to consolidate a space for Abhishek or love of acting?
Amitabh is still working, yes, what you suggest to consolidate Abhishek’s career, but to the best of my understanding, Amitabh is Bhishma, he wishes to prove that he is immortal as a star. I think that Amitabh is seeking immortality by constantly reinventing his image to suit each new age that he lives in. 

maximum cityThe news was doing the rounds since last few weeks. And it seems to be true. After the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle is all set to head back to Bombay, ok, Mumbai again. Danny has bought the rights of Suketu Mehta’s first book “Maximum City : Bombay Lost and Found”. Though nobody has confirmed the news yet. Its all hush-hush.

Mehta’s book is a non-fiction account of the city, a collage of essays, travelogue and journalistic account. And has real stories of human courage, spirit, dreams and disasters. And there lies the challenge of adapting it for the big screen.

Our guess – Danny’s film will use lot of info and background from the book and it will form the subplots. But the main plot will be something else. And to be on the safe side, he has bought the rights of the book. Much like what Vidhu Vinod Chopra did for Rajkumar Hirani’s Three Idiots. He bought the rights of Chetan Bhagat’s book Five Point Someone, as the film has similar backdrop. But the main plot doesnt have any similarity.  

Boyle was in Mumbai recently and the buzz is that he is talking to Aamir Khan for his next.

And if the news is true, we are sure that one man will not be happy at all. Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Why ? Read the book or just google. We are feeling too lazy to get our hands dirty again.