Did you know that the famous Indian actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was among the cast of Munna Bhai MBBS? That Amitabh Bachchan didn’t say the famous ‘Hum jahan kharay ho jatay hain line waheen se shru hojati hai’ dialogue? Shocked? Stunned? Amazed? So was I when I read these anecdotes in Diptakirti Chaudhuri’s Bolly Book. The writer has brought together a compendium of Bollywood trivia that keep you engrossed for a long time.
Before we discuss the features of this book, let me tell you the answers of the above questions: Nawazuddin Siddiqui was the pickpocket who tried (unsuccessfully) to steal the wallet of Munna Bhai’s father (played by Sunil Dutt), while it was Michael (played by Bob Christo in Kaalia) who said that ‘Hum jahan kharay ho jatay hain line waheen se shru hojati hai’. Mr. Bachchan, after standing up for fellow prisoner Ram Sethi, said the next line, ‘Hum bhi woh hain jo kabhi kisi kay peeche kharay nahi hotay’. Impressed? Read on for five reasons this book is a must-buy for Bollywood fans!
Language that draws you in….
In the Dev Anand-Pran starrer Johnny Mera Naam, there were two long-lost brothers Mohan and Sohan who are united during the movie. Anybody reading the sentence would be inquisitive about their mode of unification but not the writer who immediately points out, then ‘Who Is Johnny? This is exactly the way this book is penned, and trust me it keeps you turning the pages with its tongue-in-cheek references making it un-put-downable. So if you thought that Chunkey Pandey was the only actor without a double role in David Dhawan’s Aankhen, think again; the writer thinks the monkey was his doppelganger. There is a chapter in which the writer mentions that people criticized the lyrics of Aamir Khan’s ‘Aati Kia Khandala’ song from Ghulam, but in the very next sentence defends it by saying that a tapori would look awkward greeting his girl with ‘Tum aagaye ho noor aagaya hai’. The writer has a point, just like his headlines – ‘Is Ilaqay Main Naye Aaye Ho Sahab’ (for the introduction), ‘Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka’ (for the brother-sister chapter) and ‘Bath-on Bath-on Main’ (for the scenes about baths) – are entertaining in themselves.
An even greater wealth of trivia…
Can you name directors who have also acted in films? Or the films in which Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan have worked together? For the complete list of acting directors, you will have to get your hands on this book; as for the other trivia, I can help. In Swades, SRK’s character showed the villagers ‘Yaadon Ki Baraat’ where a young Aamir Khan performed on the title song, making it the second instance of the two actors sharing the screen. The first time it happened was in a dream sequence in ‘Pehla Nasha’ in the ‘90s.
Many tidbits of information from the writer’s earlier collection ‘Kitnay Aadmi Thay’ have been repeated in this book and we will not talk about them, for there is plenty of new material to pique our interest. Did you know that Amitabh Bachchan rejected the role of Mr. India, thinking that viewers would not accept an invisible hero. How wrong was he! There was an Indian Superman movie that borrowed many a scene from the original and featured Dharmendra in the role of Jor-El and Puneet Israr (Yes, Puneet who?!) as the Man of Steel. These days, Puneet is doing character roles as no one was able to cast him in a positive role after that mishap!
A writer with too much time is just too much!
The book comprises of 450 pages of trivia, divided into 19 sections, so it’s not surprising that it contains more knowledge than you can accumulate in years. The best part is that the tenth chapter – the exact middle of the book – is dedicated to intervals! The chapter titled Dhan Te Naan gives you pleasure because reading about the middle of Bollywood films can be anything but boring. The only chapter that equals the intensity of Dhan Te Naan is the one about roles that became bigger than their movies and before I can write Satya or you can say Mogambo, you have understood what I wanted to convey. Bravo!
In Jab They Met, he discusses the most important meetings in Bollywood history including the beginning of the Guru Dutt-Dev Anand friendship, the Ramesh Sippy-Amjad Khan meeting and the accidental discovery of one Badruddin Kazi AKA Johnny Walker. He also provides the readers with the telephone numbers of Star Fisheries and Star Garage from Hera Pheri (O Deva!), compiles a list of meetings in airplanes, names trains you shouldn’t miss as well as shares information about one Meenakshi Shirodhkar who acted in Bharamchari (1938) and whose legacy was carried forward by her granddaughters in the ‘90s. And you’ll have to read the book to know more. The writer now and then stops to test the reader’s knowledge of Bollywood, so be prepared!
When one thinks of Ram Teri Ganga Maili, what scene comes in mind? Yes, yes, except that waterfall one! None. That’s one of the many points on which the writer bashes Bollywood and one has to read these scattered bashings with an open mind and a constant smile. Like in Love In Tokyo, Asha Parekh was an Indian on the run, dressed as a Japanese hence the title; in Shagird, Partner and Choti Si Baat, the love doctor does the trick except in the first one where he is also the rival; in the dumbest Bollywood film of all time – Awwal Number – Dev Anand and Aditya Pancholi were blood brothers and their mother was none other than supermodel Cindy Crawford. Just imagine if Imran Khan had accepted the role that went to Aditya (yes, the Pakistan captain on a sabbatical was offered the role first), he would have played the son of a supermodel in a Bollywood movie!
The writer also makes fun of the remake of Sholay, that is, RGV Ki Aag and anyone who loves the original will stand with him for that. His pen wagging doesn’t stop there because he also talks about the needless (and sometimes essential-to-the-plot) Battle of the Middle and Songs in Disguise which have been part and parcel of Bollywood from day one. He also lists down the names of films based on reincarnations and reading about them may be informative for your next life!
And above all…
There is a section in this book that is dedicated to those actors whose names appear under the title ‘And Above All’ in film credits and if you thought that there were just a couple of instances, think again. Entire chapters are also dedicated to Mr. Perfectionist Aamir Khan’s early failures and Amitabh Bachchan’s silent scenes where he doesn’t use his majestic voice to mesmerize the audience. There are special mentions of Miss Indias who have tried their luck in Bollywood; animals who have gone on to become stars in their own way and actors who have done playback singing – you would be surprised to find the names of Sridevi and Govinda here but yes, they have also been there, done that.
The book also pays tribute to Ghajini’s marketing strategy ahead of its release where bald ushers helped the promoters hijack Shah Rukh Khan’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi that was released a couple of weeks before Aamir Khan’s blockbuster. And when coming to the end, how can I miss the chapters about ‘End Mein Twist’ and the ‘Unendings’ where the writer talks about the end, just like me. Happy Reading!