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Total recall, Bollywood ishtyle

A Shantaram-style Bollywood book, Bollywood On The Bend, incorporates anecdotes from an Indian journalist’s encounters with A-list stars.

books Updated: Jun 22, 2010 13:44 IST
Naomi Canton

Shilpa ShettyA Shantaram-style Bollywood book, Bollywood On The Bend, incorporates anecdotes from an Indian journalist’s encounters with A-list stars and an analysis of the world’s largest film industry.

The 37-year-old author, Sangeeta Wadhwani, spent six years writing the book based on her 15-year career as a lifestyle journalist in TV and print.

“I remember Gregory David Roberts saying the experiences in Shantaram were rooted in real life but the characters were fictitious. Ditto,” says Wadhwani, whose story follows Tamana, an NRI lifestyle journo who moves to India from New York post 9/11. On the plane she meets a sleazy film director and ends up getting drawn into the Bollywood circle.

Shilpa Shetty
She prefers dancing in Mumbai’s hot sun to dancing in Switzerland During an interview in the pre-Big Brother days, Shilpa Shetty tells Tamana that 14 years ago, there were no air-conditioned studios in Mumbai and they had to shoot outdoors, the sun burning on their heads.

“But when you do the dance and romance routines in places like Switzerland, you can die a thousand deaths of embarrassment dancing on the streets!” she points out.

Amitabh Bachchan
He has to dub at the crack of dawn. At a tutorial where the Big B is teaching star aspirants the little tricks of success, Tamana asks Amitabh Bachchan how important his voice is in making him an actor of distinction.

He tells her how at the peak of his career, he had to dub for his films at the crack of dawn “when the voice is at its richest” and “perhaps that helped” make him an iconic hero.

Hrithik Roshan
He has a broken knee and is headed for a dance rehearsal Tamana meets Hrithik soon after his first movie, Kaho Naa… Pyar Hai, is released and the film goes on to be a blockbuster. He is limping thanks to a broken knee, back, and shoulder — injuries sustained from performing his own stunts in his debut film. And he is heading for a dance rehearsal.

“I have now decided that I am an actor and not a stuntman. The magic of the movies is all about making an actor look good doing things…not putting their lives at risk for them!” he tells her.

Shah Rukh Khan
He calls back to talk about Gauri Khan’s butt Based on a real experience Wadhwani has Tamana ring up SRK to ask for a comment on his fabled love story with Gauri Khan. She leaves a message on his voicemail, and is shocked when he actually calls her back to tell her that he had liked Gauri’s butt and still remembers what she wore that day. He goes on to tell her how they broke up when he got too possessive, that her family who was initially against the marriage and on and on.

Tamana has another encounter with Badshah Khan when she sneaks in to watch him shoot with Preity Zinta on the Dil Se set. She understands why he’s called Badshah when he lets Zinta jump on to his back, even though he is just recovering from a back surgery. The eyes reflect pain, but the dimpled smile doesn’t slip. It’s a perfect shot!

AR Rahman
He reveals that the LTTE stopped fighting for two years after Dil Se released.

AR Rahman discusses with Tamana the unique marriage of the audio and the visual in Indian cinema, his spirituality and abiding love for Sufi songs, lore and ideals, which bring a repetitive intoxication to hits like Chaiyya chaiyya….

“Any raag has a therapeutic effect. It can affect you like a perfume. When I compose, I start with a particular feeling… and that dictates the raag…” he explains.

He adds that “when we pray to Allah, it is with an incantation, repeated 70,000 to 1,00,000 times”. “For me, a song is like an incantation. It is played all over the world, it should definitely take a positive message or positive charge.”