This is a landmark book for me. It’s the first piece of non fiction that I’ve completed in one sitting. Anna MM Vetticad’s book on the Bollywood, or in my opinion, the lesser known yet arresting aspects of the Hindi film industry, is engrossing. She decided to watch every single Hindi film released in the NCR (National Capital Region) over a year and write about it. The result is this beauty of a book. My only complaint is that it could have been longer, though how Anna found the energy for this mammoth film viewing task is beyond me !
I loved the title but hated the cover. I assumed that it was yet another boring tome and this opinion was strengthened by the synopsis on the back cover. The plethora of parentheses and incomplete sentences almost put me off. Almost. Something, maybe my guardian book- gods, made me open it.The synopsis on the first page was so captivating that I was hooked. Ranbir Kapoor’s foreword is a pleasure to read. Anna’s style of writing is casual and it just takes you along smoothly. She has focused on smaller films and lesser known actors but this only hikes the interest factor of the book.
She writes about successful models who failed to replicate their success on the big screen and why. There are narcissistic businessmen with tons of money and absolutely no reality orientation who star in their own movies and torture the audience. I absolutely have to mention Vipinno, a businessman from Mozambique,who produced and acted in the movie ‘Tum Hi To Ho’. I’m sure Anna took some time to recover from this experience. I enjoyed reading about the low budget yet content rich movies like Kaccha Limboo, Bubble Gum and I Am. There are two lengthy interviews with Onir, the director of I Am and Rohit Shetty the director of Singham, with both gentlemen epitomising the kind of films they make. The former was thought provoking yet slightly unnerving in his intensity , and the latter was making a lot of colourful grandiose statements with not much basis in reality ! There are a few more interviews. I was not enamoured by the ones with Vidya Balan and Priyanka Chopra, since there was nothing new in what they said.We get a peek into the lives of artists, technicians and singers languishing on the sidelines and working in abysmal projects after having tasted immense success earlier in life. Anna shows us serial stars who have fizzled out in Bollywood and then retreated into anonymity cos they were caught in between two worlds. Encounters with theatre owners, ushers and even amorous couples in theatres makes this a really entertaining read.Anna watched 121 films which have been faithfully reviewed on her blog. I sincerely felt that she could have made this book slightly longer and taken us further into the puzzle that is Bollywood. The end was also quite abrupt which could have been avoided.
I will be eternally grateful to Anna for answering a question which has plagued me for a long time. ‘What happened to Jackie Shroff ?’. From being a top hero to acting in increasingly seedy movies now, his downward spiralling career has been a mystery to me. How did one of the most successful actors in Bollywood reach such a pathetic level? Thanks to Anna, these questions have been answered.
In my opinion this book is a gem. I loved Anna’s forthright style and her insightful comments. This book is a must read for all lovers of Indian Cinema.