Book review – Pakeezah – An Ode to a Bygone World

Book review - Pakeezah - An Ode to a Bygone World It is always a pleasure to read and know about the classics from the house of Hindi films. Back then in the 50s, 60s and the 70s, the term Bollywood had not yet come which means films coming from Bombay film industry carried a different identity. One such film was Pakeezah and acclaimed personality Meghnad Desai chooses a right subject to get his pen talking.

At the beginning of the book, one does get an impression of a fan boy coming into play. There are pages spent on the greatness and the might of the subject, performances, actors and the film as a whole. So much so that in quick time one starts getting a little detached with what is in the offering. However as one starts turning over the pages and interesting trivia and tid-bits around Pakeezah, Meena Kumari and director Kamal Amrohi start unfolding, there is a renewed interest that starts developing.

The years spent during the making of the film, the technical details that had to be put right to get every frame into a picture perfect space, the casting changes that took place mid-way during the film, the egos that clashed and the manner in which they were addressed, the body doubles that were used to get that perfect shot, the relationships that were put on stake so that the dream of making the film could be fulfilled – a lot unfolds in this 150 odd page book.

What makes the book further interesting is the manner in which Meghnad Desai intersperses several aspects of the life and times of the people involved in the film with the actual making. Even though the film had gone on floors over half a century back and there is practically no one around to talk about what actually transpired, Desai researches to the best level possible and presents details in as chronological fashion as possible. Moreover, wherever and whenever in doubt, he confesses to that while acknowledging that a few incidents are pretty much his own interpretation on how they would have transpired.

Of course one fact that cannot be denied is that the book has a very limited reader base for itself. Though Desai goes all out in terming it as perhaps one of the best all time classics that have come out of the Bombay film industry, the claim appears as a tad exaggerated. Reason being that not many in the current times would be really enthralled to know about what Pakeezah stood for and the hardships that were faced by the makers in putting it together. Unlike a Mughal-E-Azam or a Mother India, the film hasn't quite been certified as a must watch affair in all lists.

Still, if it is your hobby to retain, nurture and flaunt know-how of some of the best films of all times, this book should make for an easy inclusion into your library.

Price: Rs. 250

Rating: ***

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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