This was another interesting translated semi-non-fiction that I read this year in August. The reason for the unusual genre classification – one section of the book, out of the three in which it is divided, consists of short stories. These stories are based on the life of some personalities from the film industry, obviously with changed names. If you are conversant with the lives of the celebrities from around 1950 to the 1970s, then you just might identify them.
Part 1 of the book covers 10 articles by Abbas, each covering one or the other great from the industry across diverse aspects of filmmaking. These are the people who Abbas came in contact with, and who influenced him. These are producers, directors, music directors, lyricists, and actors. As you read the articles, you can feel the admiration that the author had for these personalities.
The last section consists of articles that Abbas wrote as a film critique and other miscellaneous subjects about films, covering diverse aspects of filmmaking. The articles are witty at times, poignant at other times, and make you visualise a period that many of us may not even have read about.
Since this work is a translation from Urdu, I do not know if the translation does justice to the original writing. But for me the book was a wonderful looking back into the past.
I only wish that the translators come up with more volumes covering other artists from that era. There is only one issue that I had with the book – the author comes across as biased in favour or against certain filmmakers. An example – while he justifies the changes that Raj Kapoor made to his script in Bobby, in the same breath he condemns the interference by Dilip Kumar in the films that he acted in later years. But to give credit, he praises the latter as a great actor. And as I mentioned earlier, many of my favourite actors are missing. Maybe he did not find them mention-worthy.
An interesting read.
The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.