Thursday, September 15, 2011

Of Pulp Plus Poetry...

Exactly half way through my sabbatical..I get so tired studying all day :{ That is why there is a sudden spurt in the number of posts for the last few days..


I have now started reading First Day First Show by my favorite writer on Hindi cinema Anupama Chopra. Anupama is a well known film critic who also hosts the show Picture This on NDTV. She is also the wife of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and sister of director Tanuja Chandra (Dushman, Sangharsh, Zindagi Rocks, etc.). 

There are innumerable film critics but I think there are hardly any writers on Hindi cinema. Anupama writes a weekly column in the Open Magazine as well as for The New York Times. She gives such fabulous anecdotes that any lover of Hindi cinema would treasure them. I have always said that more than the film itself I love the process of film making and that is why I love collecting trivia about films. How does a director think, what goes on the thinking behind, hidden references, et al.

She has also written two books before - Sholay - The Making of A Classic and King of Bollywood - Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema but have not got a chance to read them (due to them being perennially out of stock). So a few months back Anupama brought her third book - First Day First Show, essentially a collection of her writings over the last 20 years.

I have only read a few chapters and must say I am hooked. I am posting some things which  I really liked.

Shah Rukh Khan writes a beautiful foreword, where he says that 

"We have to accept the truth. The acceptance of truth actually makes the truth vanish. When you accept that you have a big nose, you stop hiding it." 

A profound thought!

And then Shah Rukh writes 

One of the funniest stories was told to me by a bearded, arty-type director who narrated the following script to him: I play a man who is unable to marry the woman he loves and becomes a Scarface- style mafia don. She marries a policeman. At some point, the cop chases the don and shoots him, but somehow the don ends up, wounded, on a train with his ex-love. He is thirsty. She is pregnant. There is no water. So she does the only thing left to do: take out her breast and offer him her milk, after which, somehow their relationship changes to that of a brother and sister. I die after that and she goes back. I told the director, this scene is a little odd. He got very angry and told me that my mind was cheap. A woman feeding a child is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. I said, 'Of Course. But I find it odd that she is feeding me at the age of twenty-eight or twenty nine.' It seemed a little sexual to me. The director got mad at my interpretation.

Hahaha :D

And then as a prologue Anupama goes on to tell how Hindi cinema has changed over the years. At one instance she says 
"Javed Akhtar once dourly told me that most directors came to him asking for 'an original script', which had been done before."

And did you know Yash Johar had mortgaged his house for Duplicate. And if Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had not worked, his house was gone.

I also read an insightful chapter on Honey Irani - Javed's ex-wife and Zoya's and Farhan's mom. She says 

"Come on", Honey Irani is saying,"there are more photographs of Shabana than me from Farhan's wedding. We are all mature now. Ab woh buddhe ke liye kya ladna?"

In one of the chapters, she writes the following brilliant lines.

"For me Hindi cinema has always been a sort of melodramatic magic realism, a necessary comfort, and  a collective expression of hope. I love the color and overblown emotions, the exuberance and fantasy, the unapologetic lack of cynicism and irony. American film critic Pauline Kael had described the type of films that she most admired as 'the genre pictures whose forms had been imaginatively opened up: pulp plus poetry.' Pulp plus poetry. I think that is a near-perfection description of Bollywood. Which is why twenty years later, I am still seduced."

How true is that!!! For me too, Hindi cinema is escapist realism (perhaps an oxymoron!).. it's sheer poetry..

Will keep posted more on the book!! 


  1. i also want to read this..atleast the foreword... not wat u mentioned..

  2. Then buy the book :P And read the other stuff too :)


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