Frankly, these are the details that archives are made of and it is this very fact that makes one look back not quite far away and read about things that happened in our own generation. So for those who have been a regular follower of real information or gossips that were shared in magazines like ‘Filmfare’ or ‘Stardust’ over the years or far more generic ‘India Today’ (from which most of the articles have been reproduced), ‘First Day First Show’ turns out to be a highly interesting read. What also makes this book all the more entertaining is the fact that Chopra comes across as a hardcore Bollywood follower, something that reflects in her writing for majority of chapters. She also seems to be having a good handle over the economics of filmmaking as more often than not, her stories are punctuated with box office facts and figures. The best part about these chapters though is abundance of examples and anecdotes that appear in practically every page. This means that while the writer definitely has her own point of view being heard, there is enough added along to substantiate the claims as well. Having said that, one also gets a strong sense that eventually majority of her point of views are on a positive and goody-goody side that makes it all a lot too comfortable for all involved. No, one wasn’t looking for any tabloid hunting here but then there aren’t any strong opinions being made (or at least published here) that would have led to further debates being made. Yes, there are references made to superstars falling down or their series of flops but none of that is scathing enough to make any of them stand up, notice and question. Also, there are hardly any write ups from the new Millenium. Yes, there are quite a few movie reviews being reproduced (the newest ones being Dabangg, Raajneeti, Love Sex Aur Dhokha, My Name Is Khan etc.) but then the articles are mainly coming from the decade of 90s. Now that’s disappointing because one would have wanted to read a lot more about last decade as well, especially the first half of it.
Moreover, for a book which maintains an out and out ‘commercial appeal’ (as rightly reflected through a lengthy foreword by Shah Rukh Khan – whose Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge also gets a good enough dissection), there are some elements that purposefully aim (but not quite succeed) at giving readers some non-Bollywood stuff to go through as well. Picture this: There can’t be many expected to be wowed with write ups around the ‘modelling business’, ‘Film and Television Institute of India’, ‘Neena Gupta’, ‘Columnists’, ‘IFFI’ or some art house cinema coming from down South. Thankfully number of such articles is low which means one can quickly flip through the pages and move on to something interesting soon. Also, since none of the two consecutive chapters are related to each other, one can pick and choose from any point and still not miss any of the fun. What stands out though is the very first chapter (Into Production) which is like a thrilling prologue to the entire drama. The entire underworld and filmmakers nexus is touched upon (though not quite exposed) to set the ‘right mood’ for the chapters that would unfold at a later stage. One of the chapters around ‘cell-phone boom’ for Bollywood celebrities a decade and a half ago makes for an interesting read as well with the fact being revealed that Shah Rukh Khan was one of the first buyers of this ‘exclusive gadget’! Mithun Chakraborty running his mini-industry in Ooty during the 90s is given a status better than just folklore. Moreover, it is also revealed that Ajay Devgn would one fine day make a film titled Antim Sanskar and for that he was once thinking of roping in Kamal Hassan. He has the script ready and though the statement was made way back in 1999, not much was said and written about it ever again. Breaking news anyone?
Price: Rs. 499 Rating: 3.5/5