BOOK REVIEW: ‘Bollywood’s Top 20 Superstars Of Indian Cinema’ – Not a compelling read

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Bollywood’s Top 20 Superstars Of Indian Cinema’ – Not a compelling read

Bhaichand Patel’s compilation of essays about the best of B-town will definitely irk Salman Khan’s fans endlessly (he is not included in the book) and doesn’t have great insights about the icons, most of whom we have already heard and read so much about, on a daily basis

The kitschy jacket of the book titled ‘Bollywood’s Top 20 Superstars of Indian Cinema’ feels incomplete because much to your disbilief, you can’t spot superstar Salman Khan on it. As a reader you want to know the reason for Salman’s absence on the cover and in the pages that follow. There is an explanation provided in the book’s introduction for excluding him which sounds elitist and many would want to stop reading the book at that point. If you still choose to read on, you might end up feeling slightly cheated; the biggest reason is that there is much more information available about the stars in other literature who have been covered in the book.

The essays on the top 20 superstars have been written by an assorted group of known writers and that leads to the first hurdle: the changing tone and writing styles. The book starts on an impressive note as the author, Vikram Sampath, takes you through the myriad lanes of Kolkata and unravels the journey of ‘music maestro and movie legend’ KL Saigal. It is detailed and you are almost travelling back in time where you can feel the aura and ambience of that time and space. The essay ends with the author’s top five favourite works of the artiste and as a reader you would like to know more about those films as well. So there is a feeling of something left incomplete.

Next comes the essay about Devika Rani written by Cary Rajinder Sawhney, which is detailed no doubt, but the writing style is different Sampath due to which you have to re-adjust your train of thoughts. Unlike the previous essay, this one seems to be more detached and provides information without delving deeper into the superstar’s psyche and talks about the phase that the industry was going through at that time.

The third essay is about Ashok Kumar and is written by the book’s editor, Bhaichand Patel himself. This is one of the better essays and takes you through the actor’s journey in great detail. The way the essay ends is kind of cheeky, which might make you uncomfortable. You might disagree with the author’s top favourites of the actor’s work, but that is nothing very hard to deal with.

S Theodore Baskaran’s essay about Nargis can be safely called the best of the lot as it captures the entire journey of the actor in a linear fashion. It would have been great, if all the authors had followed this pattern. Pran Neville writes about actor Suraiya, which starts off well, but a page into the essay it begins to feel like another piece of detached writing. Reading Dev Anand’s autobiography, Romancing With Life would provide more insights into the actor-singer’s life.

Rauf Ahmed’s article on Dilip Kumar makes for a good read and has some very valuable insights coming from the actor’s peers. Meghnad Desai’s essay about the real showman of Bollywood, Raj Kapoor is a refreshing read and is among the well-written pieces. For those who have already read Dev Anand’s autobiography, Romancing With Life, Madhu Jain’s essay has nothing much to offer. The good thing about the article is the author’s description of her favourite Dev Anand films.

The essay on Madhubala penned by Urmila Lanba, though rich with information, doesn’t keep you engaged thanks to the drywriting, but makes up for it with the favourite picks. Pavan K Varma’s take on Madhubala is fairly engaging thanks to the prose and some credit goes to the actor herself who has inspired poets to write innumerable paeans. This article is probably the best mix of information and storytelling. Nasreen Munni Kabir, who has written many biographies of superstars has written the essay on Shammi Kapoor. This article stands out, maybe because of the author’s personal interaction with the original ‘rockstar’ of Bollywood. Needless to say it is one of the best in the book; probably worth the price of the entire book.

The essays about more recent stars like Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan don’t pack in much as we have already seen or heard most of it. It will not be completely wrong to say that diehard fans of the stars would know much more than what is already written about in the book. Namrata Joshi’s top five Shahrukh Khan films’ list includes Baadshah, but excludes Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, which was a little amusing. The book could have been a nice coffee table book if only it had some good candid photographs, but because it doesn’t have any such element to boast of, it becomes a lackluster and underwhelming experience.

Other than Salman Khan, many other prominent names like Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan were conspicuous by their absence and a token mention of Ranbir Kapoor would have made the book more complete. You might wonder what stopped Bhaichand Patel from making it Bollywood’s Top 25 Superstars of Indian Cinema, more the merrier, no?

ALSO READ:  Rishi Kapoor to tell all in his biography!

Waheeda Rehman: I couldn’t meet Dev one last time

Stars of the Dev Anand era

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  • Ralph

    Salman is not here is because, the two selfish, and jealous people are on the cover.. one of them is SRK, the over actor. He disgusts me.

    • Karan

      don’t be jealous salman isn’t there… salman can’t even act, has salman ever given a performance like srk in ddlj, darr, swades, don, chak de india?

    • The Don

      That doesn’t change the fact that Salman can’t match SRK’s caliber.

      • khanfan

        u idiot salman today is most bankable star on par with aamir followed by immi. they are way ahead ofg bakri khan he s simply finished i think even saifu is better than the kutta

  • Ali

    This book shouldn’t be even read by any one, it is a paid advertisement by SRK.

  • Satya

    It should be “Bollywood’s Top 20 Superstars of Hindi Cinema”!! When are you people going to stop this eccentric branding of Bollywood as Indian Cinema?? This is really embarrasing to other notable flim industries of India!!

  • agirn24

    The reason why Salman isn’t in the book is because he hasn’t really achieved much even despite the fact he belongs to a film family. SRK has acheived much more popularity in the world than Salman will ever dream about. Salman is only popular within the Indian community. Indian cimema is globally recognized by the face of SRK, who’s fan following numbers in the BILLIONS, more than any Hollywood actor or any other type if actor in the world, which is one of the many achievments of SRK and one reason he is in the book.

  • khan

    author of this article is a bewaqoof when he mentions harami ranboo he hasnt given any his. no salman ditch the book thats it. not naming imran khan recent man with so many super to mega hits a huge mistake and no saif with golden 4 years from 2005 to 09 disappoints while no akki dharmendra jeetendra vinod khanna and 1st superstar rajesh k and no a.r rehman surprising. the book is not even worth a read most disguting book regarding entertain ment of the millaneum

  • khan sahab

    imran khan deserves a mention yaar
    no sallu bhai hurts and makes alot of peopple angry
    but the haramkhor bakri khan is mentioned are all huge mistakes
    that….ken bakri cant act he s not even a star forget superstar i d em the writer of the book he s a little .og and needs mental asylum

  • aman tiwari

    this list never be completed if you do not enter the great and most handsome actor dharmji on top.
    dharmendra is dharmendra and no one beat him.
    thank you

  • suresh

    Ajay Devgan is the real superstar of Bollywood.

  • Salman Khan

    Shah Rukh is lots of better than Salman Khan. Salman is copycat. Salman can never act like Shah Rukh. SHAH RUKH KHAN IS ONLY ONE MEGA STAR AFTER AMITABH BACHCHAN.

    • babycat

      SRK is the best

  • shahrukh

    aamir khan zindabad
    akshay kumar zindabad
    ajajy devgan zindabad
    salman khan zindabad

    but shahrukh kutta maha badmaash murdabad

  • shahrukh

    srk kutta means

    maha badmash
    bade ka majaak banana
    not help to others
    always makin money and no sanskaar without parents

  • srk

    srk means

    maha badmash, nalayak , harami, halkat
    no sanskaar without parents, no actings but only overactings

    no digestion of failures, jokes on elders

  • Zain Kazmi

    No doubt Kamal and Rajini are the greatest superstars of Indian Cinema over the upcoming 100 years .