Book: Fragmented Frames
Author: Bhawana Somayya
Price: INR 395
Publisher: Pustak Mahal
If you are a Indian cinema buff and interested to know interesting and authentic behind-the-camera-scenes, you will most likely gravitate towards a book that has been written by someone who has intimately known the Indian film industry -Bollywood- for close to thirty years.
Instinct will make you look for pictures first and no matter how much of a fan one is of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwaryya Rai and Hritik Roshan or say even John Abraham, you will almost predictably stop at the pictures of the soulful Suraiya or Madhubala, the girl with the most dazzling smile ever.
And the book has some amazing pictures, like the one of Ajit and Dilip Kumar in Naya Daur, Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri in Abhiman or the photograph of Dadasaheb Phalke (even film buffs would not be able to identify the father of Indian cinema so easily).
But that's not all. Cut to a picture of today's Smriti Irani, in the age defying saga of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, pointing a gun and eventually killing her ‘bad’ son and winning the battle of the TV's TRPs. And we are okay with these pictures of being in black and white, because we are happy to then settle down with a cup of tea to read the essays about the movies and movie stars.
Apart from topical essays about the changing roles of women in films to complicated relationships between the older hero and a very young heroine, the book narrates touching, brave moments from Yash Johar's last days, a lovely story about the Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh romance, commentaries on the tragic lives of Mubarak Begum (who is famous for her song Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo from Hamrahi), OP Nayyar and Dadasaheb Phalke (who died almost unknown, in poverty).
Pity, the editors of the book faulted on paying attention to the grammar (lines like ‘Devika Rani, an affluent widow and childless’ on page 20, ‘unashamed to crumble down’ on page 76 and ‘irrespective of all the hooplas’ on page 80, jar the senses) or did not bother to find synonyms for the word haunt that appeared at least 15 times in the book.