- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Viking (15 September 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780670087082
- ISBN-13: 978-0670087082
- ASIN: 0670087084
- Product Dimensions: 29 x 20 x 3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #96,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee: The Filmmaker Everyone Loves Hardcover – 15 Sep 2015
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About the Author
Jai Arjun Singh has previously authored a book about the cult comedy film Jaane bhi Do Yaaro and edited the popcorn essayists, an anthology of personal essays on cinema. His columns, reviews and essays have appeared in business standard, The Hindu, Yahoo! India, Tehelka, Caravan, Sunday Guardian, Forbes, Open and Indian quarterly, among many other publications. Most of his published writings can be found on his widely read culture blog jabberwock.
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Top customer reviews
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The chapter, ‘Yeh raha mera makaan’ takes you through the homes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee films. These homes, right from Hrishi da’s films surely seem familiar. We’ve been there over a cup of tea (how can a Hrishi da films be complete without chaai?), a game of chess (His favourite), a game of ‘kaafiya’ where words rhyme with the beats of one’s heart, ‘naatak’ being played out as pranks or perhaps discussing Botany and English literature by the idyllic ‘corolla’-filled lawn.
Last, but as the cliché goes, not the least, the best thing about Jai Arjun Singh’s ‘The world of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’ is its unusual structure. Unlike other authors penning ‘autobiographies’ or ‘analytical musings’ of a film director, lyricist or musician, Jai Arjun Singh doesn’t treat Hrishikesh Mukherjee films like chapters of his book.
Reading it leaves one wishing to have a conversation with the author over a cup of ‘chaai’ and indulging in some Hrishikesh Mukherjee anecdotes that he might have omitted or perhaps reserved for the Hrishi-da fan in him. Now when was the last time reams of papers made you feel that way? Dare you call this a book! It’s a world – the world of Hrishikesh Mukherjee.
Because this work is more about the cinema and less of a biography maybe the author might have done well to include and discuss middle-of-the-road cinema as a whole or juxtapose the work of some other directors like Basu Chatterjee, Sai Parajape, Gulzar etc. It would have made for more interesting reading, at least for the casual reader who might not so much be interested in reading entire treatises upon the oeuvre of each individual director or might be content with a more general analysis of this sub-genre, if you will.
Needless to mention, this book will work well for you if you are a fan or have at least watched some of Hrishi-da's movies. If you haven't yet embarked on this here voyage, I'd strongly suggest that you at least watch Anuradha, Mem-Didi, Biwi aur Makaan, Anupama, Majhli Didi, Aashirwad, Satyakam - (the more popular ones like Gol Maal, Abhimaan, Anand etc. , I am sure anyone who picks this book to read has watched already, else I can't think of a good enough reason why you'd be here even). The bulk of the discussion revolves around these, so you won't know what he's going on about, if you only vaguely remember the scenes or you haven't watched them altogether.
Most of these movies are available on youtube as of this writing. So, if you have the time, you could also watch clips as you are reading the book to get to what the author is alluding to.
This isn't as easy a read as I thought it would be. It is analytical, and subjectively so. The prose was a little difficult and there are a lot of footnotes. I had a print copy of this book together with the Kindle and I was alternating in between the two. Even so, I found it a little tedious - the going back and forth. This and looking up the youtube videos, slowed me down not a little bit.
Plenty of food for thought here and because it discusses a favorite film-maker from yesteryear, a fairly enjoyable experience, which is why a favorable rating, and yes, I'd recommend the book to anyone who is interested in popular Hindi cinema from the not so distant past and would like to read and understand more about it.
The four rating is primarily because of the first two statements.
There is also lots of material on less seen films like Memdidi, Aashirwaad, Biwi aur Makan, Sabse Bada Sukh (Hrishikesh Mukherjee made a film about sex!) and some familiarity with those films will be required for better appreciation. But all in all, this is a book worth returning to repeatedly.
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