BY PATRICIA ANN ALVARES
BY PATRICIA ANN ALVARES
Getting up close and personal with two authors, Sumant Batra who co-authored An Actor’s Actor: The authorized biography of Sanjeev Kumar and Rahul Rawail who has penned Raj Kapoor – The Immortal Master at Work, The Peacock got an insight into the books that were discussed at the In-Conversation session at IFFI.
Movie stars spin a magic that inevitably draws us to know more about the intimate details of their lives. This desire has spurred many autobiographies and books on the lives of our famous stars.
This year at IFFI, two of Indian cinema’s greatest – the ‘Showman’ Raj Kapoor and actor Sanjeev Kumar are being paid a tribute with insightful biographies.
Born Harihar Jethalal Jariwala (1938-1985), Sanjeev Kumar was one of India’s cinema most versatile and talented actors. He also always remained an enigma. Now 35 years after his death, we are treated to a personal close-up of him.
Sumant Batra, one of India’s best insolvency lawyers with an abiding passion for Indian cinema (he has a mammoth collection of cine memorabilia) and writer Hanif Zaveri joined forces to craft this book, which was in the making for around seven years. Enamoured with the extraordinary talent of the actor who played nine different roles in Naya Din Nai Raat (1974), Batra was keen to preserve the legacy of this legend in a biography.
On convincing Sanjeev’s two sisters of this need, they authorized an autobiography and provided him with details of his life. “We interviewed over 100 family members, close friends, co-stars and others from the film fraternity. This gave us a deep insight into the private persona of Sanjeev,” says Batra, who knew that readers, like him, were keen to know more about this legend. Among other facets, the book covers his conflict with his mother about his career choice, his dilemma about being a father figure to his younger siblings, and his deep loneliness.
Debunking Sanjeev as a ‘miser’, Batra highlights the fact that the reclusive actor was anything but the tight-fisted man he was made out to be. Actor Shatrughan Sinha in his foreword to the book explains how Sanjeev sent him bundles of money when he was going through a rough patch.
The essence of Sanjeev, Batra reveals, was in his steadfast belief that he was only an actor and not a star. Entirely unconscious of himself as a star, he performed a diverse number of roles with aplomb, be it the man in short pants with a glimpse of his paunch in Pati, Patni aur Woh (1977) or as Amitabh Bachchan’s father in Trishul (1978).
Raj Kapoor – The Immortal Master at Work is director Rahul Rawail’s tribute to India’s greatest showman and legendary filmmaker. The book, which has been three years in the making, will be released next month to commemorate Raj Kapoor’s birthday on December 14, reflects on the days Rawail spent at RK Studios. “I joined Raj-saab when he was making Mera Naam Joker. In fact four of my films Love Story, Betaab, Arjun, and Dacait have been inspired by his techniques, the human emotions, the qualities of music, and the art of visual storytelling,” says Rawail. “I was able to closely observe him in all his humanness – his quirky sense of humour and his relationships with his crew and actors spanning three generations. He was an exceptional storyteller. Bobby was not his genre of filmmaking, yet he handled it so beautifully.”
Once the seed of the book was sown, Rawail wanted to have the Kapoors on board. Given their longstanding relationship, that came in easily.
Speaking during the session, Raj Kapoor’s eldest son Randhir Kapoor, who has been an immense support to the author, recalls the time the father and son visited the Soviet Union. “People would refer to him as Comrade Raj Kapoor. Each and every one of his films was popular in that part of the world. He was perhaps more well known in Russia than in India. I strongly endorse this book which is a tribute to my father’s work and I am privileged to be talking about it at IFFI.”