Wednesday, 8 August 2018

In a cult of their own Bollywood beyond box office by Amborish Roychoudhury: a review

Wait. What did I just complete reading? This book is pure genius and a wonder book for all the cultmongers and film buffs out there present in the youth of today's time. A compilation of 23 chapters- each about one particular movie of their time, this book is a must read for everyone. In a cult of their own, Bollywood beyond box office by Amborish Roychoudhury had a surprise within itself for me and I couldn't have been happier for picking this one up.

About the book- 'Cult become cults, they are not made. It's the becoming that is interesting, not the making.’ When we hear iconic dialogues like Amitabh Bachchan’s 'rishtey mein toh hum tumhaare baap lagtey Hai, naam Hai Shahenshah!’ or 'Aap purush nahin… mahapurush hai’ from the insanely humurous Andaz Apna Apna, not many remember that these films did not stir the box office. A tongue in cheek ode to the cult movies of Hindi filmdom, In a cult of their own is unique in that it celebrates these underdogs. Drawing from his own reminiscences of growing up on these Delectables, and also face to face interviews with actors and directors such as Aamir Khan, Pankaj Kapoor, Deepti Naval and Rajkumar Santoshi, the author lucidly inks a kaleidoscope with films like Mera Naam Joker, Chashme Buddoor, Chameli ki Shaadi, Jo Jeeta wohi sikandar, Gunda, RGV ki aag, among others that are pulled out of obscurity to have their time in the sun all over again. As film critic Mayank Shekhar writes in the Foreword to this book: 'Movies are how we also collectively laugh at ourselves. This book is a welcome addition to the running joke.’

If you're done marvelling at the super awesome colors of the cover of the book (which I clearly amn’t yet), we can go talking about it. The cover of the book and it's blurb convinced me that this book is worth the try for a film lover like me. When I started reading it, the dedication page of the book sealed it's fate: this book was already 5 stars for me. Now, the author has, through the interviews and his critical analysis of the cult movies made sure that there isn't a single dull moment here. Whenever we are reading a chapter, the author has the power in himself to transfer us to the time when this movie was made.

This power of the author made me fall for the book all the more. The movies mentioned in the book have achieved cult status over the years and the author explains exactly why with the help of anecdotes and sneak peeks into what the director or the actors thought of while shooting the movie. The chapters and the facts are complete inside the book with citations which we usually do not get in such books. Not for even a second did I feel that I am reading a nonfiction.

The lucid writing style is another plus point of the author along with witty remarks that held me as a reader. And I would hate the author this one time and mention it here, rather complain here because his book made the inner writer in me and an aspiring filmmaker in me, feel like visiting a feature film set and working behind the scenes (like I always wanted to). For all the movies mentioned in the book, my favorite has to be No Smoking because it gives me exactly the feeling that the author has as written.

For the cons of the book. Well, there are so few that it is negligible to even write about it. To begin with, I missed a certain 'Dasvidaniya’ and 'A Wednesday’ in the book and I'm sure the author knows what I am talking about. Next, no doubt the author has chosen those cult movies for the book but I, as a reader felt that if the book caters to a certain age of audience then along with these movies, a few more closer to years movies could've done no harm. And that's that. For a moment I felt that I am sitting face to face with the author and discussing these movies with him. That's a feature not many non fiction writers could achieve especially in his/her debut work. Also, I'll end with requesting the author to write more books on cult movies, underrated movies, overshadowed movies and the likes. This book was surely a 4.75 out of 5 for me. 

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