Thursday, August 28, 2008

Review: Bollywood, A History by Mihir Bose

By John Cheeran
The best thing about Bollywood: A History by Mihir Bose is the cover photograph of a beautiful Rekha. Bose is a prolific, award winning author and journalist but his take on Bollywood comes across a lazy effort with no insights coming through.
Now Bose has written many books, I haven’t any, but that should not stop me from pointing out that his attempt was amateurish and his book has come about only by extensive research, in other words, lifting copiously from others who had done original work.
It is amazing that Bose wrote Bollywood with just one interview, (or it a series of interviews) he had with director Shyam Benegal. Throughout the book, Bose takes refuge in Benegal to hold his book together. Then he quotes all and sundry including Shobha De (Selective Memories), Bunny Reuben, Raju Bharatan et al.
Given this is a work of history and the fact that Bose has mostly relied on others’ work to write it, it is a pity that writer has not bothered to provide footnotes. So Bose has camouflaged his lack of effort. He did not speak to Raj Singh Dungarpur, but he quotes extensively him regarding Lata Mangeshkar’s role in Bollywood during the chapter “The Explosion of the Bombay Film Song.”
May be that’s the way seasoned journalists work.
And then there is the atrocious editing that irritates one to the core. If not for paying Rs 495, I would not have read this at all.
I have with me Bose’s History of Indian Cricket, and again, by claiming to be comprehensive, Bose has fed others works and produced a book that won an award.
And going by the number of books he has written on a number of varied subjects, one wonders whether all of them suffer from the similar shoddy practice?

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