Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bollywood Bio Book Club

So it turns out that celebrity biographies are much the same the world over. Which does not, sadly, explain my obsession with reading them -- even the fluffy ones. The Madhubala biography I was able to get through the Amazon Marketplace (Masti and Magic) is little more than a photo album. Of, admittedly, very lovely photos. The Kishore Kumar (Method and Madness) bio is similar, although it does have more text. (Neither book, by the way, offers much if any insight into their relationship and marriage). There's a longer and potentially more substantial Madhubala biography out there, but it looks like I'm going to have to order it through Interlibrary Loan.

On the one hand, there's the celebrity puff-piece and fan keepsake. On the other, the hilariously self-aggrandizing autobiography. Sorry, Dev Saab: I enjoyed Guide a whole lot, and am really looking forward to Jewel Thief, but nothing in your memoir Romancing With Life is going to dispel that misconception of narcissism that you talk about in the book. Then again, why should it? Your career was built on your handsomeness, so I'd imagine narcissism develops as a survival strategy to keep it going. I'm in no position to judge.

I will, however, chuckle at the world in which raindrops "rolled down the glass like so many naked female forms, writhing their bodies in a quivering dance..." (p. 24).

While Amitabh: The Making of a Superstar is also a good read, my favorite so far has been the misleadingly titled Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, which is mainly an analysis of her films and dances, with only as much "life and times" needed to accomplish that. Along the way I learned quite a bit about Helen, and acquired a long list of new films to track down on YouTube, if not on DVD.

I've got one more coming in the mail right now, which I discovered through sheer fluke. I was browsing through booksellers with copies of a Dilip Kumar biography, when I noticed that the cover image didn't match the book description. The cover image (which has, sadly, since been fixed) was of a different book by the same author, called ...and Pran: A Biography.

I am, as always, hoping for maximum awesomeness.

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