Movie buff? Here’s what cinema does to writers (IANS Book Review)

May 17th, 2011 - 10:09 am ICT by IANS  

Book: “The Popcorn Essayists - What Movies do to Writers”; Compiled and edited by Jai Arjun Singh; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Price: Rs.395, Pages: 227

This collection of essays by well-known Indian authors writing on films and the making of films weaves the magic of the world of cinema for the avid movie buff. “The Popcorn Essayists - What Movies do to Writers” is a lively collection of 13 articles and a must-read book for anyone with an interest in films.

The essayists are not film critics, and it is precisely for that reason that they bring greater exuberance and refreshing insights to the magic of films.

“I am a citizen of the world created by Bollywood,” writes Amitava Kumar.

“Writing My Own Satya” is Kumar’s eulogy to Ram Gopal Verma’s film “Satya” and its hero, fellow Bhojpuri speaker Manoj Bajpai.

Manjula Padmanabhan writes in “Jellyfish” of her interest in films and the slow process of understanding how to read a film.

A throwaway comment by a friend brings the startling realisation that the stirring of lachrymal feelings during the movie was the result of the studio bosses’ subtle manipulation of the emotions of viewers. It makes the viewers putty in the hands of the studio bosses, she writes.

Manil Suri recalls his fascination with the inimitable dancer, Helen, from the time when movies were the only form of entertainment for the whole family and were the common link for all strata of society.

“In My Life as a Cabaret Dancer”, Suri gives an entertaining account of his public performance of dancing in drag to Helen’s super hit dance sequence from the film “Caravan”. It was part of a dare during a book event but his exertions only managed to sell two copies of his book.

Editor of the series, Jai Arjun Singh, has always been fascinated by horror films, especially the older genre of thrillers. They did not have the technical excellence of contemporary horror films, but the sudden jerks in the flow of the story made them seem even scarier, Singh recalls.

On the other hand, Madhulika Liddle is captivated by the romance, comedy and music of the Hindi suspense films of the 1950s and 60s.

Namita Gokhale’s “Super Days” is an interesting picture of the snippy, glittery life at film magazine “Super” at the height of the era of gossip magazines. Gokhale writes about the reigning prima donna of film gossip writers and her passion for the superstar of his times, Rajesh Khanna.

In “Going Kaurismaki”, writer Anjum Hasan travels through Finland and sees the country through her memories of the movies of renowned filmmakers.

Musharraf Ali Farooqi writes on “The Foot-Worshipper’s guide to Watching Maula Jatt”, taking a look at the classic Punjabi film.

Other writers include Kamila Shamsie, Jaishree Misra, Rajorshi Chakraborti and Sidum Vadukut writing on different vignettes of the film world and their personal experience of movies.

(Shubha Singh can be contacted at

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Life Style |