Over the years, I have to come to love books written by Anupama Chopra. If 'Sholay: The Making of a Classic', is something that needs a definite entry into one's collection, 'King of Bollywood : Shah Rukh Khan and the seductive world of Indian cinema' is stuff that is bound to be picked by Bollywood aficionados. As for those who like to go through an impressive catalogue of essays, features and interviews, books like 'First Day First Show: Writings from the Bollywood Trenches' and 'Freeze Frames' make for a good read. No wonder, there were good expectations from 'The Front Row' as well.
There is a reason behind that. After all, this exhaustive 350 page book offers a lot, really lot, in terms of content. It is nothing less than salivating to see this compilation of interviews with names like Amitabh Bachchan, Khan trio, Sanjay Dutt, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani, Ranbir Kapoor, Kangna Ranaut and more involved. This isn't all as Hollywood celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Jackie Chan, Johnny Depp, Martinc Scorcese, Steven Spielberg fetch a lot of attention as well. As for those who want to take the road less explored, there is further variety that ranges from Rohit Shetty to Sanjay Mishra.
With so much in the offering, 'The Front Row' could well have turned out to be a brilliant read that would stay glued into your hands from first till the last page.
Unfortunately, it doesn't quite turn out that way, and there are quite a few reasons behind that.
First and foremost, these are old interviews. Imagine reading about Barfi! and trying to participate in a chat that Chopra is having with the lead actors and the director. Or for that matter eavesdrop on the jokes that Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor are cracking for, err...no, not Bajirao Mastani, but Ram Leela. Want to get up, close and personal with Priyanka Chopra? Well, expectations would be to know more about Dil Dhadakne Do, if not 'Quantico'. Well, we still get to read about her decision to do What's Your Raashee? Wait, wasn't that gazillion years ago?
This is what puts you off as a reader when a compilation is handed over to you that has so many references to the films gone by that there is hardly any interest left in going through it all over again. Especially in the times of internet when you anyways get to read interviews from past and present at any point in time, a book has to be special, but in case of 'The Front Row', it doesn't turn out to be the case.
Not that there is absolutely nothing in store. The chat around the 100 Crore Club is always an exciting topic and that indeed makes for a good read. The Director's Special is one of the more fun reads as the participants ranging from Farah Khan, Imtiaz Ali and Rajkumar Hirani to Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap make for an interesting cocktail. However, at places there is boredom that sets in as well, especially when a chat comes on Women In Cinema and Actor's Special. I was particularly left unimpressed with the latter as it was all talk, and talk, despite Big B, Farhan Akhtar, Deepika and Ranveer in there.
Well, all of this could well have been compensated had the usual suspects come up with some tongue in cheek interviews in their inimitable style. However, when even Salman Khan doesn't make that happen, you know that it is time to move on to Anupama Chopra's next!
Price: Rs. 399/=
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