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From John to Emraan: Bollywood celebrities have taken over the book shelf

Author Piyush Jha talks about Bollywood celebrities taking over the book shelf.

more lifestyle Updated: Dec 10, 2016 18:13 IST
Piyush Jha
John Abraham attended a book launch event in Mumbai.
John Abraham attended a book launch event in Mumbai. (Yogen Shah)

Author Piyush Jha talks about Bollywood celebrities taking over the book shelf.

In the past month, I’ve attended three different events that launched books on Bollywood, ranging from the biography of an actor, and a critical analysis of a Bollywood director’s oeuvre, to a book on a Bollywood film. Each of these books has been written in a popular form by smart, non-academic writers, and all are produced well and brought out by savvy, leading publishers.

I guess it was only a matter of time until publishers warmed up to the marketability of books based on Bollywood. Marketing is also much easier when you can depend on the name of a Bollywood film or personality on a book’s cover for sales. It’s no wonder then that you can find books of all kinds — from cookbooks and fashion lessons to fitness guides — by Bollywood personalities.

Emraan Hashmi with his son Ayaan during the launch of his book, The Kiss of Life, in May this year. (Pramod Thakur/HT Photo)

However, the most interesting variant on the anvil seem to be fiction books written by Bollywood actors. Nearly every Bollywood actor with rudimentary education now wants to tell stories in print and publishers are signing actors left, right and centre. Not all the actors who sign up for the task will have the necessary writing skills, but that’s nothing a good ghostwriter can’t take care of. If politicians and sportspersons can use one, what’s to stop a Bollywood actor?

Siddharth Malhotra at the book launch of Kala Ghoda by Abha Lamba during the Kala Ghoda 2016 festival in Mumbai in February 6 this year. (Anshuman Poyrekar/ HT Photo)

Maybe it is a welcome inclusion. However, it’s important for patrons to ensure that the inclusion does not turn into intrusion. That’s because, once Bollywood gets in anywhere, it tends to take center stage. Just take a look at what happened with the third page on newspaper supplements — today’s party circuit reportage is all about Bollywood shindigs. It happened with TV commercials, too, with Bollywood actors becoming ubiquitous endorsers of nearly all kinds of products on Earth. It’s also happening with modeling —no fashion show is complete without a Bollywood actor as a showstopper these days.

Author Piyush Jha is a contemporary storyteller who practises his craft by directing films and writing books.

I’ve begun to wonder if the day is not far when Bollywood personalities, who already dominate the silver screen, will take over the bookshelf as well.