Anything but KHAMOSH, the biography of Shatrughan Sinha has many parts that will remain with you and leave a lasting impact, reviews Peeyush Sharma.
Shatrughan Sinha has a larger than life image. As an actor he was immensely popular right from the day he ‘hit’ the silver screen, literally. Unconventional looks, exceptional dialogue delivery laden with populist punches and an impressive screen presence brought him stardom very early in his career. Shatrughan was the only actor other than Vinod Khanna who started his career as a villain and soon got promoted to lead roles owing to public demand and fan following.
On the other hand, we also have the legendary Pran who started as a hero, that too opposite Noorjehan, back in Lahore, but had to settle for villain roles once he migrated to Bombay. That he rose to character roles and was recognised as one of Hindi Cinema’s finest actors is part of Bollywood history now. The film industry has its own scheme of charting out career paths that may be a complete u-turn from how one starts off. Shatrughan Sinha is one such actor who chalked out his own unique trajectory.
Shatrughan, had a style of his own, not known to ape or copy any other previous successful star was a huge ace up his sleeve. He established his own diehard fan following. In Anything But Khamosh: The Shatrughan Sinha Biography written by well-known writer Bharathi S. Pradhan, and published by OM Books International (2016) Shatrughan comes about straight out from his heart and as many times before, establishes a direct one-on-one with the reader even though, this time through his quotes and comments as documented by the biographer.
My first take is, do read the book. Bharathi S Pradhan needs no introduction to a reader keen on cinema and it is evident that she has painstakingly gone through this project in minute details. How it has been designed and executed, is obviously her’s and the publisher’s choice.
I remember meeting the Karnataka film actor Ambrish once in a Bangalore restaurant with my film distributor friend, Mani. All the while he was having his meal and interacting with the waiter he was Ambareesh, but as soon as we hailed at him and smiled, he put on the evident Shatrughan act loudly. Probably that was his screen image that he had to up-keep in public. This fact is well documented in the biography.
However, as an avid reader of books on cinema, I must admit I am somewhat disappointed with this biography. I would have preferred to read about Shatrughan’s films, roles, directors, co-stars, etc. in much more detail instead of just a passing reference. What a film literature reader seeks in a book on cinema is to read about the films and the people behind the making of films. The book falls short here.
Surely, Shatrughan Sinha is also a popular politician and deserves to be written about, but the narrative gets hurt by the biographer’s own political opinion. It colors the narrative particularly when the biographer passes her own judgement about “right man in wrong politically party”. It is one thing when some third party expresses such an opinion, but it is unacceptable for the biographer to opine.
There is dirty linen washed for public reading. Pages after pages are filled with inconsequential stuff, which pull the biography down. In a few years from now, Shatrughan will remain a pillar for the Hindi mainstream cinema and these petty squabbles will mean nothing. Similarly, he will be remembered for his foray and success as a politician and the small time blurts will just die off, as they always do.
Well researched and documented family references
That Shatrughan is outspoken and honest comes about clearly through the book, as the quotes and mentions from his immediate family are placed very well and in great reference. So are portions of the quotes from other cinema personalities and political personalities. These are very well researched and documented. Only the length, extent and quantity leaves one desiring for more as these are truly the brighter parts of the book.
The forward by Shashi Tharoor is unexciting and flat. Someone closer to film star Shatrughan should have been asked to do the job. What Tharoor thinks or says about the popular film personality Shatrughan Sinha is of no interest to film lovers. And surely it is not an exclusive politician’s biography.
Poonam Sinha – the silent support behind Shatrughan Sinha
Poonam Sinha and her silent dedicated work all through the life of Shatrughan, as a film star and a man, comes about brilliantly all through the book. Many an unknown facts are also shared, so are his life’s facets with his children. Sonakshi, as expected is more verbose and elaborate, that too in a bright good way.
The Filmography portion at the end also should have been checked for authentic details as factual mistakes are glaring. It is surely compiled by others, but it does leave an impression of the book in general. I don’t recollect an Ashok Kumar in Dev Anand’s Prem Pujari (1970) nor was there a Partho Ghosh the director, when Chetna was made. There are quite a few such errors and incomplete information.
Well, do not mistake my criticism as not to pick the book up and read it. There are many parts that will remain with you and leave a lasting impact as well and certain doubts that one may have carried, would get ironed out in the process of going through the book.
Shatrughan has been a darling of the masses, whether cinema or politics, and he will remain so. That, as movie goers, we were thrilled to see his act in Rakta Charitra (2010) as we were when we saw him in Prem Pujari (1970) or Gambler and Mere Apne ( both 1971) is what really the actor Shatrughan is all about.
Anything But KHAMOSH is available on: Amazon India and Flipkart
The opinions shared by the writer is his personal opinions and does not reflect the opinion of Learning and Creativity Magazine. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.
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