‘My Father, The Villain’ – The title of the book is quite catchy actually. Moreover, as is rightly mentioned on the cover, books on character actors are quite rare. Those belonging to one generation before would definitely recollect the name Madan Puri. The actor died in 1985, which means most belonging to the current generation would not have even heard the name or watched his films. This means from the target audience perspective, the book finds itself in a restricted zone. Still, son of Madan Puri – 73 year old Kamlesh Puri – thought it would be homage of sort to put together the book.
Hence the title, ‘My Father, The Villain’.
It couldn’t have been more apt, considering the fact that Late Madan Puri is known most for his villainous roles in the 400 odd films that he did. Yes, he started off as a leading man in a few films and then retired as a gentle family man on-screen. However, the fame that came his way was through many a film that he did as a villain.
From this context perspective, the book made for an exciting pick. More so, as the hardbound book has a good design to it, comes with an attractive layout, and very importantly has chapters which are quick, snappy and crisp. That makes for a very easy read as Kamlesh Puri doesn’t beat around the bush in narrating tales about his dad and those who were near and dear to him. Fortunately, he doesn’t invest much time in exploring the generations ago lineage either, something that time and again turns out to be ultra-boring for a common reader.
Where the book succeeds quite well is detailing the real man that Madan Puri was, which means the journey is taken entirely into his family, instead of filmy world. You get to know how he loved his carpet on the floor in the living room, how he had most of his meetings there, even shaved there, and chit-chatted with his family members. You go much beyond the surface as Kamlesh details the kind of simple lifestyle that his father lived, the rules that he had set around no filmy talks at home and certain principles that he followed in life.
Of course, since the man was born way back in 1915, which is exactly a century ago, you would find the man to be reasonably orthodox in his thinking. One can’t be judgmental around that either as generations have gone by in the last 100 years. However, this very old fashioned outlook means that for a segment of audience that reads this book, certain anecdotes involving Madan Puri and his family may seem a little odd.
Moreover, the reading – although simple – is a little ad-hoc in the middle portions. While the stage is set right by Kamlesh, suddenly the narrative tilts towards his own stories than his father’s. There is a lot of print space dedicated to the immediate and extended family of Madan Puri, something that doesn’t necessarily establish connect. In fact one hurriedly goes through the middle pages as you would rather know about the subject in question than the ones around him.
Thankfully, the book comes back in form in the third act as you get to know about Madan Puri up, close and personal all over again. This is also the point where Kamlesh meets quite a few of Madan Puri’s colleagues and contemporaries, and gathers countless trivia and anecdotes from them. A connect is established all over again and you do feel a tad emotional by the time last page is through.
Pick this one up if the life and times of the yesteryear actors interests you, and you want to know more about the late actor who was forever a China Man of Bollywood, courtesy films like Howrah Bridge, Shatranj and Prem Pujari.
Price: Rs. 499/=