Saturday, March 19, 2005

Show Business - Shashi Tharoor

Ok so I expected a Great Indian Novel.
It didn't help that the lead character is Ashok Banjara(AB ahem) is married to Maya (J) acts in a movie starring both his wife and the actress he is having an affair(Rekha?) with (Silsila) where the story of the movie resembles Abhiman, who has a disastrous stint in politics and who suffers a life threatening accident while filming (Coolie). In typical tongue in cheek manner Neetas Natter (Stardust) becomes Cheetahs Chatter.
The book follows the life of Ashok Banjara but that is only an excuse to look at the world of Bollywood. The story is told through multiple perspectives, that of Ashok, Pranay (the villain , I wonder if its Pran), Ashwin(Ashok's brother - Ajitabh?), Mehnaz (Rekha).
The book has flashes of brilliance like the Hindi movie script interludes describing Ashok's movie. Because like it or not you are laughing at yourself. Who among us hasn't liked Amitabh's movie, but reading them in detail like this, i have to marvel at the things we tolerate in the movies we see.
The book has sharp commentary as well. As the guruji notes Topless Nudity which is still part of India's rural truth is banned in our movies, But violence etc which is illegal is cheerfully glorified

So why was I disappointed on the whole with the book ? Oh its still worth reading But it lacked something. Perhaps the fact that I didn't identify with the characters or maybe I didn't want to do. I still want to remember Amitabh as the hungry ..Sorry angry young man. And to see him as a flawed human being somehow subtracts from the movies that I have fond memories of.
Perhaps it was the fact that the ending is weak. Perhaps because most of the things you get to read in this book are cliched. True but cliched. You have heard it so many times before.

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