Book Review: Harish Shah’s Tryst with Films

Time and again one comes across books where actors, filmmakers and sometimes even character actors are glorified for the work that they have done over the years. Sometimes these books are commissioned to be written by others; at times these are biographies and most of the times all that one gets to read is one flattering chapter after another. If the subject wishes then there are a few grey areas from his/her life that are exposed but more often than not even these are back handed compliments.

Book Review Harish Shah’s Tryst with Films

Now this is what makes Tryst with Films different because here filmmaker Harish Shah doesn’t talk about his success stories, he talks about his failure stories. He goes at good length during this 120 odd page book to talk about the various flops and disasters that he has delivered in a career that lasted close to four decades. Yes, he did meet with an occasional success or two but by and large he faced failures, rejections and disappointments and he doesn’t feel shy talking about that and more.

Currently suffering from cancer and not with many funds at his disposal, the filmmaker reminisces about the times when he worked with Rajesh Khanna (Mere Jeevan Sathi) and how he stopped making films after a disappointing experience during Sunny Deol’s Jaal – The Trap.

It is interesting to know how Harish and his brother, with no experience whatsoever in making films, actually decided to step into this arena. That was the time when films came into existence pretty much on the power of relationships and this is what Harish relied upon when he decided to take the plunge into filmmaking after a brief stint with journalism. From a chance meeting with Dilip Kumar to actually finding himself in the inner circle of Rajesh Khanna, he had quite a start for himself in the industry before the harsh reality of the world around started to bite him.

He goes in great length talking about how he was first building his career around Rajesh Khanna and though there was great personal relationship to begin with, professionally he had to part ways when he started facing dates related issues from the late superstar. Soon enough he was working with the likes of Firoz Khan (Kaala Sona) and Rishi Kapoor (Dhan Daulat) though there were troubles galore even back then due to his inexperience in filmmaking as well as the fidgety nature of the industry where schedules were hardly kept.

He doesn’t feel shy talking about how he was almost broke at many junctures of his career and in debt with financiers with whom he had to eventually count on good faith. However it was his passion for making films that kept him going as a result of which he dabbled with different genres like horror, social and even action thrillers. As a matter of fact he even dabbled with direction himself as he made Zalzala with Dharmendra, Shatrughan Sinha and Rajeev Kapoor which was a success. However each such success was followed by a couple of loss making proportions as a result of which he found himself in red time and again.

That said, what does jar about this book are elements related to literary aspect. Whether in terms of grammar, spellings, sentence formations or punctuations, there are quite a few mistakes. There is no streamlining of narrative either as one page leads to something else and invariably personal and professional experiences are mixed up. It is almost like a freewheeling conversation being narrated when somewhat better structuring would have helped.

However all of that is compensated by the sheer honesty that Harish Shah brings while sharing his experiences. Moreover there are anecdotes galore as he talks about his various attempts of working with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, where he found dejections time and again. However, he neither minces words nor sounds regretful as he clearly seems to be way past the life that he has lived and is currently counting the days left in his life.

Read it to know how Bollywood is not as glittering as it seems from the outside.

Price: Rs. 249/=

Rating: ***

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