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Decoding Bollywood (Stories of 15 Film Directors)
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About the Book

 

Some like Farah Khan and Zoya Akhtar had sterling antecedents but it took a tough childhood and intermittent assignments on film sets to win the box office with Om Shanti Om and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara; while Ashutosh Gowariker auditioned for folk dances and failed with his debut film, Lagaan created cinematic history; and Anurag Basu had to first dance as a background extra and later overcome cancer to witness Barfi win hearts and awards. These and other hitherto unfamiliar stories of directors belonging to the "100 crore club" like Rohit Shetty and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra; the adventurous, Kabir Khan; and the maverick, Mahesh Bhatt take us through the unusual lives of 15 filmmakers of extraordinary films.

 

Sonia Golani achieves the incredible by sitting each director down to candidly discuss the hype around the Oscars; the exclusivity of the "100 crore club"; the effect of corporatization and much more. Decoding Bollywood is more about demystifying the "world of Bollywood" than a mere decoding of 15 directors who have created benchmarks in their respective genres for generations to follow.

 

 

About the Author

 

Sonia Golani has a BA (Hons.) in History from Lady Shri Ram College and a Masters degree from the University of Delhi. An entrepreneur, she manages her firm, Management Consultants· Group which specializes in recruitment of professionals (MBAs and CAs) for Banking, Financial Services, Insurance and FMCG sectors.

 

She had the distinction of securing a second rank in Rajasthan State in class X Board exams. Later while pursuing ISC from Maharani Gayatri Devi Girl's School, she topped her school. In college, she was elected as Treasurer, Students' Union.

 

Her second book, My Life, My Rules: Stories of 18 Unconventional Careers was published to much acclaim in 2013. Passionate about life and its nuances, she plans to write several books, ' play golf, help people make better careers for themselves - and hopefully do all of this with equal fervour!

 

Author's Note

 

It gives me great pleasure to present my third book, Decoding Bollywood: Stones of 15 Film Directors. After having written about two themes close to my heart viz., "women in leadership positions" covered in my first book, Corporate Divas and "following your heart" covered in the second, MY Life, My Rules: Stones of 18 Unconventional Careers, I decided to write a book on Bollywood, the most popular name for the Mumbai film industry (even though unacceptable to many), which touches the lives of millions through one way or the other.

 

I am one of those millions of Indians who grew up watching Hindi movies: from the iconic Sholay, when I must have been about six years old, to Satte Pe Satta; Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in my teens; Bhaag Milkha Bhaag recently; art house cinema like Arth and Saaransh; and evergreen classics like Awara, Mother India, Mughal-e-Azam, Aradhana and Anand. I reckon most of us would concede that you can't live in India and be oblivious to either Bollywood and cricket, the two main pillars of entertainment which continue to' obsess the nation. That I am a resident of Mumbai, the film capital of the country, was another compelling reason to write a book on this subject. Coincidentally, 2013 commemorating the centenary year of Indian cinema, also made it the most opportune time to have a book of this kind.

 

As the title suggests, Decoding Bollywood: Stones of 15 Film Directors is essentially an account of my interactions with some of Bollywood's most prominent directors. Considering the timelines, logistics and the framework of the book, fifteen directors have been covered in this edition from several others who have undoubtedly made significant contribution to Indian cinema.

 

These stories are not meant to offer a critique of the directors' films; my attempt is to delve into the professional and personal journeys of fifteen filmmakers in order to unravel and decode some aspects of the Hindi film industry. Amongst several other things, my conversations explore the creative world inhabited by some of the most talented minds in the world of cinema; their insights and learnings of the business; Bollywood's elusive quest for the Oscars; the use of marketing blitzkrieg for a film's success, professional ethics and so on.

 

It is my belief that the best way to understand the world around us is through conversations with people who walk this beautiful planet with us as co-travellers, One to one conversations make the world come alive in a more humane way and help make better and deeper sense of our surroundings, cutting out the clutter and noise of information overload, where many a time the more significant aspects related to individuals tend to get lost. It is to capture this understanding, sans the glitz, that I follow the conversation format and write the books I do.

 

I have personally known several people who were attracted by the glamour of the film industry and at some point had either wanted to become film stars or filmmakers. But most of them knew very little about the dynamics of the film world that existed in Mumbai. Today, even though Bollywood-related information occupies a lot of space in newsprint and the electronic media, there are perhaps very few books that give a glimpse into what it entails to achieve success in the tinsel town. It is therefore my attempt to present a cohesive picture of the industry through the stories of these filmmakers- directors, who are in more ways than one captains of their ships, the bosses on the film set. The story of each director brings out some interesting facts and nuances of the industry and that in my view is the key take away from the book for every reader, those who seek a breakthrough in the industry or are simply interested in films and its world.

 

My close interactions with these creators of cinematic magic brought home several facts-why a particular director makes the kind of movies he or she does; often, how movies reflect the persona of a director; their take on life; point of view on a subject which is quite often drawn from their respective milieus and so on.

 

While writing this book, one significant aspect that became conspicuous about Bollywood is how production houses in Mumbai work more like family enterprises and many of the key players of the industry are actually related to each other. This is best defined by the Chopra-Johar clan. The late B R Chopra who directed and produced memorable films like Naya Daur (1957) and the television serial, Mahabharat (1988), had set up his production house in Mumbai in the late Forties which is now run by his son, Ravi Chopra. B R Chopra's younger brother, the late Yash Chopra founded the powerhouse Yash Raj Films in the early Seventies, now managed by his son, Aditya Chopra. Hiroo 'Chopra' Johar, mother of Karan Johar who runs the highly successful Dharma Productions is Brand Yash Chopra's youngest sister. These relationships bring out a certain facet of the industry and a reference to this aspect is in no way meant to undermine the talent and abilities of different individuals who despite filial connections, have shone out on the strength of their own abilities.

 

It was interesting when I learnt that the internationally acclaimed film director, Shekhar Kapur is legendary actor Dev Anand's sister's son. Or that Farah Khan's mother, Menka 'Irani' Khan and Salman Khan's father, Salim Khan were cast as the lead pair in one of the films in the early Sixties, produced by Menka's mother. Padmini Kolhapure, a popular actress of the Eighties and aunt of Shraddha Kapoor of Aashiqui 2 fame, is related to the Mangeshkar clan and so on and so forth. Through the stories of Zoya Akhtar, Farah Khan, Rohit Shetty and Mahesh Bhatt in this book, the readers get a perspective of those who come from film families and have deep roots in the industry. Yes, clans and kinships do exist but what's heartening and uplifting about the Mumbai film world is an innate respect for talent irrespective of connections or well-embedded "roots". Over the years, the industry has embraced many, who started from scratch but had the requisite talent, a fire in the belly and a deep desire to achieve, by bestowing them with unparalleled fame and success.

 

This book also covers stories of directors who came from an academically oriented background to Mumbai to pursue their dreams and made their way to the top with no previous industry connections, whatsoever. Prakash Jha and Sudhir Mishra, featured in this book, owe their success in some measure to the training imparted by the Film and Television Institute of India or FTII (even though Prakash did not complete the course and Sudhir was not even on its rolls) and the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC). What is remarkable about their stories is both began by being associated with parallel cinema in the late Eighties and managed to make a successful transition to mainstream, contemporary cinema.

 

During the writing of this book, I discovered how most filmmakers ascribed the desire to make films as some sort of a compulsion, an uncontrollable urge that made them give up their regular professions to be able to tell stories. The book covers advertising professionals like R Balki and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, documentary filmmaker Kabir Khan and actor Nandita Das, who yielded to their strong inner calling, leveraged their experiences and succeeded in making outstanding films. Nagesh Kukunoor, a post graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, gave up a promising career in the United States to come back to India and follow his passion to be a filmmaker.

 

Contents

 

Acknowledgements

IX

Author's Note

XI

The Unpretentious Braveheart: Anurag Basu

1

The Perfectionist: Ashutosh Gowariker

17

The Trailblazer: Farah Khan

30

Life is an Adventure: Kabir Khan

42

In his Mentor's Footsteps: Kunal Kohli

54

The Plain-spoken Philosopher: Mahesh Bhatt

65

'Indie' Spirit Personified: Nagesh Kukunoor

78

A Humanitarian First: Nandita Das

89

The Soft-hearted Rebel: Prakash Jha

99

The Effervescent Dreamer R Balki

113

Quest for Originality: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

125

The Midas Touch: Rohit Shetty

138

Romancing Cinema: Sudhir Mishra

149

Passion, Patience, Perseverance: Vipul Shah

162

The Discerning One: Zoya Akhtar

174

 

Sample Page


Decoding Bollywood (Stories of 15 Film Directors)

Item Code:
NAJ035
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2014
Publisher:
Westland Ltd.
ISBN:
9789384030308
Language:
English
Size:
8.0 inch x 5.0 inch
Pages:
201
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 140 gms
Price:
$18.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

 

Some like Farah Khan and Zoya Akhtar had sterling antecedents but it took a tough childhood and intermittent assignments on film sets to win the box office with Om Shanti Om and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara; while Ashutosh Gowariker auditioned for folk dances and failed with his debut film, Lagaan created cinematic history; and Anurag Basu had to first dance as a background extra and later overcome cancer to witness Barfi win hearts and awards. These and other hitherto unfamiliar stories of directors belonging to the "100 crore club" like Rohit Shetty and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra; the adventurous, Kabir Khan; and the maverick, Mahesh Bhatt take us through the unusual lives of 15 filmmakers of extraordinary films.

 

Sonia Golani achieves the incredible by sitting each director down to candidly discuss the hype around the Oscars; the exclusivity of the "100 crore club"; the effect of corporatization and much more. Decoding Bollywood is more about demystifying the "world of Bollywood" than a mere decoding of 15 directors who have created benchmarks in their respective genres for generations to follow.

 

 

About the Author

 

Sonia Golani has a BA (Hons.) in History from Lady Shri Ram College and a Masters degree from the University of Delhi. An entrepreneur, she manages her firm, Management Consultants· Group which specializes in recruitment of professionals (MBAs and CAs) for Banking, Financial Services, Insurance and FMCG sectors.

 

She had the distinction of securing a second rank in Rajasthan State in class X Board exams. Later while pursuing ISC from Maharani Gayatri Devi Girl's School, she topped her school. In college, she was elected as Treasurer, Students' Union.

 

Her second book, My Life, My Rules: Stories of 18 Unconventional Careers was published to much acclaim in 2013. Passionate about life and its nuances, she plans to write several books, ' play golf, help people make better careers for themselves - and hopefully do all of this with equal fervour!

 

Author's Note

 

It gives me great pleasure to present my third book, Decoding Bollywood: Stones of 15 Film Directors. After having written about two themes close to my heart viz., "women in leadership positions" covered in my first book, Corporate Divas and "following your heart" covered in the second, MY Life, My Rules: Stones of 18 Unconventional Careers, I decided to write a book on Bollywood, the most popular name for the Mumbai film industry (even though unacceptable to many), which touches the lives of millions through one way or the other.

 

I am one of those millions of Indians who grew up watching Hindi movies: from the iconic Sholay, when I must have been about six years old, to Satte Pe Satta; Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in my teens; Bhaag Milkha Bhaag recently; art house cinema like Arth and Saaransh; and evergreen classics like Awara, Mother India, Mughal-e-Azam, Aradhana and Anand. I reckon most of us would concede that you can't live in India and be oblivious to either Bollywood and cricket, the two main pillars of entertainment which continue to' obsess the nation. That I am a resident of Mumbai, the film capital of the country, was another compelling reason to write a book on this subject. Coincidentally, 2013 commemorating the centenary year of Indian cinema, also made it the most opportune time to have a book of this kind.

 

As the title suggests, Decoding Bollywood: Stones of 15 Film Directors is essentially an account of my interactions with some of Bollywood's most prominent directors. Considering the timelines, logistics and the framework of the book, fifteen directors have been covered in this edition from several others who have undoubtedly made significant contribution to Indian cinema.

 

These stories are not meant to offer a critique of the directors' films; my attempt is to delve into the professional and personal journeys of fifteen filmmakers in order to unravel and decode some aspects of the Hindi film industry. Amongst several other things, my conversations explore the creative world inhabited by some of the most talented minds in the world of cinema; their insights and learnings of the business; Bollywood's elusive quest for the Oscars; the use of marketing blitzkrieg for a film's success, professional ethics and so on.

 

It is my belief that the best way to understand the world around us is through conversations with people who walk this beautiful planet with us as co-travellers, One to one conversations make the world come alive in a more humane way and help make better and deeper sense of our surroundings, cutting out the clutter and noise of information overload, where many a time the more significant aspects related to individuals tend to get lost. It is to capture this understanding, sans the glitz, that I follow the conversation format and write the books I do.

 

I have personally known several people who were attracted by the glamour of the film industry and at some point had either wanted to become film stars or filmmakers. But most of them knew very little about the dynamics of the film world that existed in Mumbai. Today, even though Bollywood-related information occupies a lot of space in newsprint and the electronic media, there are perhaps very few books that give a glimpse into what it entails to achieve success in the tinsel town. It is therefore my attempt to present a cohesive picture of the industry through the stories of these filmmakers- directors, who are in more ways than one captains of their ships, the bosses on the film set. The story of each director brings out some interesting facts and nuances of the industry and that in my view is the key take away from the book for every reader, those who seek a breakthrough in the industry or are simply interested in films and its world.

 

My close interactions with these creators of cinematic magic brought home several facts-why a particular director makes the kind of movies he or she does; often, how movies reflect the persona of a director; their take on life; point of view on a subject which is quite often drawn from their respective milieus and so on.

 

While writing this book, one significant aspect that became conspicuous about Bollywood is how production houses in Mumbai work more like family enterprises and many of the key players of the industry are actually related to each other. This is best defined by the Chopra-Johar clan. The late B R Chopra who directed and produced memorable films like Naya Daur (1957) and the television serial, Mahabharat (1988), had set up his production house in Mumbai in the late Forties which is now run by his son, Ravi Chopra. B R Chopra's younger brother, the late Yash Chopra founded the powerhouse Yash Raj Films in the early Seventies, now managed by his son, Aditya Chopra. Hiroo 'Chopra' Johar, mother of Karan Johar who runs the highly successful Dharma Productions is Brand Yash Chopra's youngest sister. These relationships bring out a certain facet of the industry and a reference to this aspect is in no way meant to undermine the talent and abilities of different individuals who despite filial connections, have shone out on the strength of their own abilities.

 

It was interesting when I learnt that the internationally acclaimed film director, Shekhar Kapur is legendary actor Dev Anand's sister's son. Or that Farah Khan's mother, Menka 'Irani' Khan and Salman Khan's father, Salim Khan were cast as the lead pair in one of the films in the early Sixties, produced by Menka's mother. Padmini Kolhapure, a popular actress of the Eighties and aunt of Shraddha Kapoor of Aashiqui 2 fame, is related to the Mangeshkar clan and so on and so forth. Through the stories of Zoya Akhtar, Farah Khan, Rohit Shetty and Mahesh Bhatt in this book, the readers get a perspective of those who come from film families and have deep roots in the industry. Yes, clans and kinships do exist but what's heartening and uplifting about the Mumbai film world is an innate respect for talent irrespective of connections or well-embedded "roots". Over the years, the industry has embraced many, who started from scratch but had the requisite talent, a fire in the belly and a deep desire to achieve, by bestowing them with unparalleled fame and success.

 

This book also covers stories of directors who came from an academically oriented background to Mumbai to pursue their dreams and made their way to the top with no previous industry connections, whatsoever. Prakash Jha and Sudhir Mishra, featured in this book, owe their success in some measure to the training imparted by the Film and Television Institute of India or FTII (even though Prakash did not complete the course and Sudhir was not even on its rolls) and the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC). What is remarkable about their stories is both began by being associated with parallel cinema in the late Eighties and managed to make a successful transition to mainstream, contemporary cinema.

 

During the writing of this book, I discovered how most filmmakers ascribed the desire to make films as some sort of a compulsion, an uncontrollable urge that made them give up their regular professions to be able to tell stories. The book covers advertising professionals like R Balki and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, documentary filmmaker Kabir Khan and actor Nandita Das, who yielded to their strong inner calling, leveraged their experiences and succeeded in making outstanding films. Nagesh Kukunoor, a post graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, gave up a promising career in the United States to come back to India and follow his passion to be a filmmaker.

 

Contents

 

Acknowledgements

IX

Author's Note

XI

The Unpretentious Braveheart: Anurag Basu

1

The Perfectionist: Ashutosh Gowariker

17

The Trailblazer: Farah Khan

30

Life is an Adventure: Kabir Khan

42

In his Mentor's Footsteps: Kunal Kohli

54

The Plain-spoken Philosopher: Mahesh Bhatt

65

'Indie' Spirit Personified: Nagesh Kukunoor

78

A Humanitarian First: Nandita Das

89

The Soft-hearted Rebel: Prakash Jha

99

The Effervescent Dreamer R Balki

113

Quest for Originality: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

125

The Midas Touch: Rohit Shetty

138

Romancing Cinema: Sudhir Mishra

149

Passion, Patience, Perseverance: Vipul Shah

162

The Discerning One: Zoya Akhtar

174

 

Sample Page


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