Book review – Pradeep Chandra’s Abhishek Bachchan – Style and Substance


‘Why Abhishek Bachchan?’

Well, many are expected to have this question on seeing a book around the actor hitting the stands. This isn’t all. It is a coffee table book, a good 200 odd page affair that has been put together by photojournalist Pradeep Chandra for the 40 year old actor.

Guess what, Chandra knows this was coming, and hence he pretty much brings that up right at the beginning of the book. In fact he pretty much acknowledges that Abhishek himself asked the same question to him when this topic was breached upon. As he explains the reason for that, one realizes that the book has been put together not just to showcase the professional side of Abhishek but also his personal side.

That said, the book totally stays away from being a quintessential biography. Instead, it strikes a fair balance between being a picture book that has some level of content added in there too to break the monotony. In the process, though it doesn’t quite turn out to be an entirely fulfilling experience, for those who want to glimpse into Bachchan’s household from Abhishek’s point of view and through Chandra’s lens, the book turns out to be a reasonable pick.

One thing which clearly stands out around the book is the fact that while it steps into the professional and personal aspect of Abhishek’s life, it never gets into an intrusive zone. Credit it to the fact that Abhishek may not have intended for a reader to step into his family affairs or maybe he is saving it up for a true-blue biography that may come in a decade or two down the line, but eventually the book stays true to being a coffee table affair without turning into a voluminous textual affair.

In that aspect, Chandra scores since he brings in some striking pictures of the actor right from his childhood days to the current times. Most of these are actually exclusive never-seen-before pictures, and that definitely adds freshness to the book. More so since the publishers also do a very good job of giving a good layout, quality and class to the book, which makes it a colorful and handy affair. Also, there is abundance of pictures where Abhishek is shown with his immediate family and those clips indeed make for a good viewing.

From the text perspective though, one does feel that Style & Substance has been put together largely as a pat-on-the-back affair. Yes, the praises that have come Abhishek’s way aren’t unfounded. After all, appreciation for his performance in films like Guru, Yuva, Sarkar, Bunty aur Babli and more are truly deserved. However, just a cursory mention of his flops and the fact that he is continuing to learn from his disappointing shows could have perhaps been elaborated more with some added reasoning, as that would have given the book a much better well rounded feel.

The book is also essentially divided into three major sections. While the first is about Abhishek in the world of Bollywood, second is about his tryst with the world of sports and the third goes on to dedicate a chapter each on his illustrious family members, including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Shweta Nanda. While that’s understandable, it would just have made for an even more interesting read had there been a lot more reading material added for the first section.

Nonetheless, considering the fact that it is essentially a coffee table book and hence comes with its own limitations, one looks forward to another book now which actually narrates a tale about Abhishek Bachchan, ‘the man that he is’, and not just about his ‘Style & Substance’.

Rating: ***

Price: Rs. 1500/-

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Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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