Bollybook-The Big Book of Hindi Film Trivia: Book Review

Growing up in places like Chennai and Coimbatore during the Doordarshan days, chances are that if you are onto films at a very early age, the interest would primarily revolve around Tamil Cinema. However for someone like me who by now watches films in every language possible and feels that Regional Cinema has more to offer than Bollywood, it was Hindi Cinema, more popularly known as Bollywood which first appealed to me. Amitabh Bachchan appealed to me first, much earlier than say Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth or even Bruce Lee 🙂 . Considering that those were the days of no internet & satellite T.V, one could only depend upon ‘Chitrahaar’ on Doordarshan or the occasional visits to the theatre to stay tuned with Hindi films. Well there were the Bollywood magazines like Filmfare, Stardust, Cineblitz etc but then there was a problem in my case, these magazines were more less banned at home.

Bollybook CoverWhy? Ok let me explain with a true story of sorts. It was the mid 1980’s and the weekly round of Chitrahaar was going on, and there were friends and neighbours watching it at your place (or you are at someone’s place), after all community T.V viewing was so much the norm those days, for various reasons. So the program started and the first song was about to begin, before that the film name was announced, not as a scroller on screen but with a proper poster of the film being displayed before the song starts. So the poster was of ‘Pyar Jhukta Nahin’ (1985) and the song that followed was the superhit song “Tumse Milkar Naa Jaane Kyun” &  I started rattling off stuff like oh! this film has Mithun Chakraborty, Padmini Kolhapure and Danny Denzongpa, the music is by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, etc. Some onlookers were amazed, while my dad got irritated and gave me an earful later on asking me to shut up hereafter and not to “show off” my filmy knowledge, lest people start making fun of me.

Now why would people consider it funny to be interested in filmy trivia didn’t really strike me then but this was more than enough reason for my dad to sort of informally ban film magazines and any other source with which I could probably get “addicted” to movie stuff, but as a popular Hindi film dialogue goes “honee ko kaun taal sakta hai bhala”? :).  That was also the time when slowly but surely I was getting seriously interested in quizzing and it was fun to see that some expertise on filmy trivia could also be of use during the quizzes. But I didn’t really do anything special for all that, because there was a genuine interest in knowing as many actors involved in every film that I saw and slowly it spread to an interest in knowing about the people behind the scenes as well. So a Keshto Mukherjee, Huma Khan, Satyen Kappu or a Dan Dhanoa were people I was bothered to know more about. Wait, why am I getting all nostalgic now? Well if you are someone like me then that’s what Diptakirti Chaudhuri’s recently published book, “Bollybook-The Big Book of Hindi Movie Trivia” would do to you as well.

This isn’t Diptakirti’s first book and neither is he attempting something on Bollywood trivia for the first time. While his first book was on Cricket (Cricket! All you wanted to know about the World Cup), he then shifted base to Bollywood trivia with “Kitnay Aadmi Thay” (yes the iconic dialogue that is synonymous with Gabbar Singh of Sholay now). Having read Kitnay Aadmi Thay I was quite curious to know what more can he come up with when it comes to his second Bollywood trivia book, also how does he actually differentiate this book from the previous one. Like a lot of Hindi films which come up with taglines, similar to brand campaigns, the marketer in Diptakirti adopts the same practice with his books as well. So if Kitnay Aadmi Thay is all about “Completely Useless Bollywood Trivia”, then Bollybook is “The Big Book of Hindi Movie Trivia”. So yes the very physical appearance of Bollybook gives you the feel that this is indeed a far more comprehensive trivia book when compared to Kitnay Aadmi Thay, but then as they say looks can be deceptive. So what could be a better way to find out other than reading it and finding out for oneself what the differences were, if any.

If Kitnay Aadmi Thay made for good informal reading, what with no structure to the way it was organized (like no list of contents or index section at the back), or meant to be read and giving the look and feel of a book that’s ideal when you are on the move, with Bollybook Diptakirti has done just the reverse. Not only is it a more detailed, and hence bulkier book, it is also well structured and looks and feels like a year book or almanac of sorts in a way :). However just because it is quite well organized there is no compromise on the fun element, which has been taken care of the right way. This is a book that’s as much for those into trivia, as well as for those who may not be into trivia per se but nevertheless very passionate about Bollywood. Also unlike Kitnay Aadmi Thay which was more like a collection of interesting lists (movies which inspired movies, song titles which went on to become movies etc), Bollybook discusses these lists in detail.  So the section on cricket (Howzatt: 10 Cricketing Movies) is not just a list of 10 Cricket based films, but some interesting trivia about each of these 10 films is there for us to take a look at.

Bollybook-Cover 2So if you are into Cricket & love trivia as well, then are you aware of what probably could be Bollywood’s earliest Cricket Movie, Subodh Mukherji’s Dev Anand-Mala Sinha starrer, Love Marriage (1959)? This is a film in which not only does the heroine fall for the hero after seeing him bat, but they also sing a cricketing song ‘usne phenka leg break toh humne maara chhakka, out karta kaun humien hum khiladi pakka’. Well its trivia of this sort which distinguishes Bollybook from the usual trivia books. Also while trivia is usually considered to be serious stuff, the truth is that it can be fun as well, depending on how you look at it. Diptakirti brings in a delicate touch of humour in his writing which makes the trivia in the book a whole lot of fun to read. Sample this-while talking of MBA’s in Bollywood films, there is a reference to Madhur Bhandarkar’s Corporate where Bipasha Basu and Minissha Lamba are from the same B.School. Yes I know you may remember that, but do you remember that “almost immediately on Minissha’s joining, she was asked to organize the region-wise distribution data in a comprehensive table format”? Well therein a lies not just trivia, but also a joke which one would understand if you are an MBA yourself and/or worked in sales/marketing 🙂 .

If one were to be asked to name the only lyrics writer who has won the Filmfare Award thrice in a row, the obvious choices would be Gulzar, Javed Akhtar or Anand Bakshi perhaps. But how many of us know that the right answer is Shakeel Badayuni (1960-Chaudhvin Ka Chand, 1961-Gharana, 1962-Bees Saal Baad)? While even the more serious quizzers maybe aware of many details mentioned in the book, the Shakeel Badayuni example is there to show the kind of variety and the range covered in the book by Diptakirti. Another thing that makes the reading interesting is the use of interesting footnotes and bonus trivia which are strewn all through the book. Also if you are one of those who likes to look back at details about certain actors/directors/films then again the chances are that you may end up finding Bollybook to be a worthwhile read. With various sections and topics being covered, care has been taken to point out the reader with specific cues for more details on a certain topic.

Of course considering the huge volume of trivia that has gone into the book there are certainly areas/sections where probably there is scope for improvement. I am not going to be elaborating further on the same as that wouldn’t really be doing justice to the otherwise wonderful work that has gone into this book. Just as films are made with a lot of passion, a book like Bollybook is also an outcome of strong passion, passion for writing and more importantly passion for cinema. Eventually Bollybook does live up to its tagline (The Big Book of Hindi Movie Trivia) and for that reason it’s more than worthwhile going through.

Note-Bollybook-The Big Book of Hindi Movie Trivia (MRP-499) is available at book stores across the country and can be also bought online from Amazon, Flipkart etc.




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