In the last couple of years, there have been quite a few books that have revolved around posters in Bollywood, history of Bollywood movie/music or biographies of Bollywood celebrities. However, one can’t recollect a book which has been dedicated to themes in Bollywood. For this very thinking, author Tushar A Amin needs a pat on the back because he thinks out of the box (well even if it is primarily from the idea perspective, but more about that later) and brings in something new. Also, because Tushar is someone who is young, is attached to ‘Bollywood today’ and comes across more as a ‘Bollywood fan’ than a historian, it is a reason to feel joyous. After all one has been through with quite a few details around heard-before Bollywood trivia from the past and really, beyond a point it all becomes a boring read to know about the era of 40s, 50s or 60s. In that context, coming in of Tushar is a welcome sign because one expects not just a fresh perspective to the state of affairs but also some good insight into the cinema of last 15-20 years. Alas, but that happens only in bits and pieces. It’s good to see that there are more mentions of the likes of Ranbirs, Priyankas, Imrans, Deepikas and Neils of the world when compared to any other Bollywood book ever released. But then there isn’t much to explore if one has been closely following Bollywood in the last 5 years and is aware of all the happenings in their lives due to emergence of tabloid journalism, 100 news channels and 25 internet websites. ‘What’s new’ is what one asks and this is where a big question mark comes in because most of the stuff that Tushar presents in his write ups are something which would be known to a Bollywood follower. Agreed that for historians it becomes a relatively easier job to dig out trivia due to decades of work behind them. However, from someone who is still active in the world of movies, there was some level of ‘inside information’ that one would have expected. On the contrary what one gets to see is plain write ups around what the author thinks of these genres/themes. Lack of quotes from any celebrities is still understandable because Tushar perhaps wanted to present an essay of his own. But then it would have been far more exciting had it been sprinkled with more anecdotes, something which the book clearly lacks. Does that mean that there is nothing at all in the book to be browsed through? No, that’s not the case because for an average reader, there is still a lot to read through, especially when the journey involves passing through various themes. So what one gets to read is Tushar’s perspective on grandeur in cinema, the essence of love, song & dance routine, rogues, sirens and seductresses, comedy, Bollywood mothers and patriotism in Hindi cinema. Still, does entire content in this 150 page book (which has more than 50% of it dedicated to pictures) entice a reader enough? Not really. That’s because it is kabhi exciting, kabhi lukewarm. Some of the portions in the book really make you hurriedly turn up the pages to know more while at places, you just go through the content which is, to put it mildly, plain boring. For example, the two page write up where Tushar explains ‘Bollywood Khan Dance’ makes you yawn after a while. Same holds good for some the other ‘gyaan’ that he shares around ‘Cine Maa Recipes’. If humour was the intent here, that doesn’t quite come across. There are a few factual errors which are surprising too. For example, director of ‘Jab We Met’ is mentioned as Shaad Ali instead of Imtiaz Ali while Akshaye Khanna is referred to as Akshay Khanna and that too not once but actually twice. Also, Amjad Khan has been mentioned as a villain in Yaarana when that was hardly the case as in the film, he had played a positive guy and even won an award for the same. However, such faux pas is compensated by some excellent layout that the book boasts of. There are hundreds of pictures and quality of each of them is impeccable.
The print quality is fantastic while the presentation opulent. Frankly, as a picture book this really excels and would be a delight for those who haven’t caught hold of any other Bollywood book (primarily centred on posters) in recent times.
Price: Rs. 1695/