Ghalib Danger is an unusually crackling title for a book. But it is not surprising when it comes from filmmaker Neeraj Pandey — the maker of Bollywood gangster sagas. After making gripping thrillers such as A Wednesday and Special 26, Pandey has taken the literary route. The subject of his first novel, Ghalib Danger dips into the murky world of cops, gangsters, and a young taxi driver Kamran Ali who transforms into ‘Ghalib Danger’. A huge fan of Mirza Ghalib, and Jeffrey Archer, Pandey had been living with this story for some time. “I’ve always been a writer, and penning a book was on my mind,” says Pandey. Distributed by author Hussain S Zaidi’s Blue Salt and Penguin Books India, Ghalib Danger is up on the book shelves now. He is not alone, as celebrities from different professions are expressing themselves through books.
Businessman and Shilpa Shetty’s husband, Raj Kundra also recently launched his thriller, How Not to Make Money. Kundra’s literary debut is based on true events, about three childhood friends who decide to get rich or die trying. Published by Random House India, the book is based on the Missing Trader Fraud in early 2000. “It took five years and many well-wishers to turn the story into a book,” says Kundra.
The last couple of months have seen a string of books, both fiction and non-fiction, from first-time celebrity writers. Actor Karisma Kapoor gave mothers a new Bible in motherhood, My Yummy Mummy Guide: From Getting Pregnant to Losing all the Weight and Beyond, co-authored by Madhuri Banerjee and published by Penguin under its imprint Shobhaa De Books. Younger sister and actor Kareena Kapoor launched The Style Diary Of A Bollywood Diva, a chic guide on fashion and glamour and is looking forward to pen an autobiography next.
Actor and activist Gul Panag is busy putting together a trilogy on health and fitness, What Works for Me. Sanjay Gupta, who made Dus Kahaniyaan, has just started writing a series of short stories. While Remo D’Souza plans to pen a book on dance, actor Kulraj Randhawa is investing her time in weaving a metaphysical science fiction. Notorious for his controversial film Girlfriend, director Karan Razdaan is out with his first book, Tantra & the Tantrika, that looks into the world of sex, god and tantra. Host of popular TV series MTV Roadies, Raghu Ram, records 10 years of Roadies and his life in Rearview: My Roadies Journey. “This book is an account of what went into making the show. It is also biographical, for it brings alive chapters from my life, childhood, being bullied, growing up, creating Roadies, the reason I shout, and the controversies on the show,” says Raghu. Although biographies account for 25-30 per cent of non-fiction sales, the genres are expanding.
“There is a huge dearth of content while the readership market is growing phenomenally. The game has changed further with e-books and social media, and hence more books are being launched to whet this voracious appetite,” says Panag. Post TV serial 24, Tisca Chopra has gone back to jotting down her struggle in Bollywood. How To Survive Bollywood (with Penguin), is about the good, bad and ugly of the industry, Chopra’s experiences, and real stories of friends such as Kavita Kaushik, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap and Boman Irani. A collection of her notes penned over eight years — “It’s insightful, anecdotal, not explosive or biographical,” says Chopra.
Given their fan following, publishing houses are on the lookout for a ‘star writer’ chosen on the basis of quality and marketability of the idea. Having big names helps driving up sales, says Hina Mobar, Group Head of Marketing and Publicity, Rupa Publications and Aleph Book Company. Her banner has produced books such as The Green Room by Wendell Rodricks, Sunshine Lanes by Prasoon Joshi and The Race Of My Life: An Autobiography by Milkha Singh.