Wednesday April 8, 2020

Sridevi’s Biographer: Wanted to Know Many Things About Her

Like most of her fans, even Satyarth liked Sridevi in films such as "Solva Sawan", "Mr. India", "Sadma", "Chandni", "Nagina" and "Himmatwala"

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Indian actress Sridevi had passed away at the age of 54 in Dubai. VOA

BY ARUNDHUTI BANERJEE

Author Satyarth Nayak, who has penned the biography “Sridevi: The Eternal Screen Goddess”, says he had too many questions in his mind about the late legendary superstar, adding that her sudden demise broke him so badly that he wanted to give up the idea of writing the book.

Asked if he would have preferred an insightful conversation before writing the biography, as he was appalled that there is no good book on his favourite superstar Sridevi, Nayak told IANS: “That was the original plan. In 2017, after I was sanctioned by Penguin Random House, I had word with Boney (Kapoor) sir and Sridevi ji. She said that she was quite occupied with (daughter) Janhvi’s debut. Around that time Janhvi had signed ‘Dhadak’. Sridevi ji said that once the film was released, she would be free and we could down for the book.”

That was not to be. The actress passed away on February 24, 2018.

“I was shattered. I was emotionally broken and told myself I can’t do this anymore. I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to know so many things about her. There was a list of questions in my mind but now these questions would remain unanswered,” said Nayak.

However, according to the author, Sridevi’s husband Boney Kapoor and the publishing house of the book encouraged him to get over the shock, and Nayak went on to interview around 70 actors to get material for a tribute to his favourite actress.

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Sridevi is remembered for her performance is some of the iconic Bollywood films like “Mr. India”, “Nagina”, “Sadma”, “ChalBaaz”, “Chandni”, “Khuda Gawah”, among many others in different Indian languages. Wikimedia Commons

So, what were the questions Nayak wanted to ask Sridevi? “I think an artist of her calibre could have avoided some of the film that she did in the nineties. I know that in some of her interviews she said that she was not getting her choice of roles. I wanted to know, why did she not explore arthouse cinema at that point of time and work with filmmakers like Govind Nihalani and Shyam Benegal? We could have seen a different side of Sridevi in such films,” he replied.

Like most of her fans, even Satyarth liked Sridevi in films such as “Solva Sawan”, “Mr. India”, “Sadma”, “Chandni”, “Nagina” and “Himmatwala”.

“But I also wanted to ask why she acted in a film like ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’. However, a person like me, who admired her as an actress, can only wonder, but in the rest of my book, I have paid tribute to her,” said the author.

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While it is easy to assume that, like any other average fan, Nayak liked the dazzling smile, dancing skill and screen presence of Sridevi, the author shared his reasons for admiring the actress: “It is so much easy these days to talk about pay disparity, substantial roles for women in cinema and so on. Sridevi, at the top of her game in the eighties and the nineties, dealt with misogyny, patriarchy in the film industry, and how. She was one of those successful heroines who stood her ground on getting substantial parts in film instead of just an elementary presence that was the common practice of that era.

“In a film like ‘Chaalbaaz’, two heroes like Rajnikanth and Sunny Deol were supporting actors and in the poster, her picture was bigger. She brought back the glorious days of fifties and sixties when women used to get meaty roles. Most interestingly, she has done it all in a commercial space. She was a female superstar by all means,” pointed out the author. (IANS)

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Penning a Book Doesn’t Make an Author Immortal: Ruskin Bond

"From a love of reading, comes writing," says Ruskin Bond

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Much-loved and widely-read author Ruskin Bond believes that it's from a love of reading that a writer comes to a love of writing. Wikimedia Commons

BY SIDDHI JAIN

Much-loved and widely-read author Ruskin Bond believes that it’s from a love of reading that a writer comes to a love of writing, and penning a book does not always translate to the author becoming immortal.

“There’s only one way to become a writer, that’s to be a reader. If you look at the lives of all writers who are successful, you’d find that when they were boys or girls, they were readers and bookworms. It’s from a love of reading that you come to a love of writing.

“Writers do get forgotten. Sometimes we think writing a book gives us some sort of immortality, I assure you it doesn’t. Ninety-nine percent of writers over the ages have been forgotten, you don’t know that some of them have been very good?. Writing is something you do anyway, regardless of whether it is going to make you rich or famous around the world or in your country,” Bond, 85, said at Arth, a cultural fest, in the national capital.

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Ruskin Bond has previously pointed to a dwindling reader base, but feels that there is enough audience for good writers to help them thrive. Wikimedia Commons

Landour-based Bond, an Indian author of British descent and a Padma Bhushan awardee, published his first novel “The Room on the Roof”, the semi-autobiographical story of the orphaned Anglo-Indian boy named Rusty, at the age of 17, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (1957).

I did begin writing very early, and writing somehow wasn’t very fashionable back in the 1950s when I finished school. Today I keep meeting youngsters and even oldsters who want to write and are writing books. It seems to be the in-thing.

“?But when I finished school, writing wasn’t popular as a profession. But I was determined to be a writer, and when I came home, and my mother asked, Ruskin what are you going to do with yourself now, I said Mum, I’m going to be a writer, she said, Don’t be silly, go and join the army,” shared Bond.

How far do awards go in contributing to the work of an author?

Ruskin Bond
“A lot of parents complain that children spend more time on electronic media and don’t read enough, but you see, reading has always been a minority pastime,” says Ruskin Bond. Wikimedia Commons

“I don’t think in the long run, awards have made much difference. If you are a good writer, and you have a good readership, then prizes and awards along the way are nice to have on your mantelpiece, but they are not going to make a great difference to your work.?”?

With more than seven decades into writing, does the great author have a writing ritual?

“I think most writers try to write something everyday, you need a certain discipline to get through the assignment you have been given, or to complete a novel. I try to write a page or two every morning, but it’s not compulsory.”

Bond has previously pointed to a dwindling reader base, but feels that there is enough audience for good writers to help them thrive.

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“A lot of parents complain that children spend more time on electronic media and don’t read enough, but you see, reading has always been a minority pastime. Even when I was a boy, in a class of 30-35 boys, there were just 2 or 3 of us who were fond of reading.

“At that time, education in English in India was confined to a few schools, and maybe to the upper classes, but today it has spread significantly throughout the country.” (IANS)