To engage in Bhawnaa Somaaya's conversations with B-town celebrities has always been a pleasure. The veteran journalist has time and again managed to extract tid-bits and some notable trivia out of some such folks who have otherwise been reticent in their conversations with media. Hence on finding the book 'Talking Cinema' on the stands, I was quite excited to check out what she had to offer.
As it turned out, and rather disappointingly so, the 200 odd page affair was primarily a compilation of some age old interviews done by her, some of which dated back by even a decade.
From a book which promised to go behind the scenes with several of the film fraternity's best-known stars, a lot more was expected, especially so since some of the biggest names in the world of films came together in here. Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Shahrukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, Rekha, Ajay Devgn, Rani Mukerji – They are all in here. They do talk about the craft of acting, what goes in their mind when they pick up a film, how they react to criticism, what does it take to live a director's vision, how the industry has gone through a sea change over the years or how they manage their personal and profession life!
Now if only all of this would have been 'current', 'Talking Cinema' would indeed have been hailed as a film that indeed walked the talk. After all, it isn't everyday that a celebrity lets go off his or her shield and goes totally uninhibited in a conversation. Over the decades Bhawana has shown that she is amongst the best in the business when it comes to engaging a celebrity in as casual and an informal way as possible.
However when a conversation goes back to the time of Khakee and Lajja or Yuva and Company or Black or Dev, there is deep sense of 'dated appeal' that comes in, which leads to discontentment.
Nevertheless, after surrendering to the content in the offing, one moves on to the intent and this is where 'Talking Cinema' does fetch some brownie points for itself. It isn't every day when one gets to hear what directors like Shekhar Kapur, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Govind Nihalani or Mani Ratnam have to say about their work and in that aspect, the book does touch upon areas which were perhaps hitherto unheard.
Yes, some parts of the book do turn monotonous, especially when certain celebrities get into an auto-pilot mode when interviewed around their work. In fact these portions also make one wonder why such elaborate accounts were included in the first place. Still, given the fact that one is anyways choosing the best out of what is available, you move on.
All that one hopes for now is that when another book on similar lines comes out, it is much more topical and contemporary.
Price: Rs. 299