ShelfLife: Star struck

The biography traverses the predictable path of recounting Hema’s childhood years, strict Tamilian upbringing under the watchful eyes of her mother Jaya Chakravarti and her rigorous Bharatnatyam training.

Written by Ektaa Malik | Published: November 18, 2017 12:11:36 am
Hema Malini, Ram Kamal Mukherjee, Harper Collins, indian express book review, indian express news The book has some good photos, which chart the journey of Hema — her childhood, stardom, marriage and foray into politics, but again, every frame is perfect.

Book- Hema Malini: Beyond the Dream Girl 
Author-Ram Kamal Mukherjee  
Publisher- Harper Collins 
Pages- 241
Price- Rs 599

If you thought that Hema Malini: Beyond The Dream Girl, an authorised biography by Ram Kamal Mukherjee would, perhaps, answer all your questions about the various controversies that have mired the famed actor over decades, you will be sorely disappointed. It’s not a no-holds-barred book. It’s at best a well-written Wikipedia entry.

It barely scratches the surface of the story of this Iyengar girl, who spent her initial years — 14 to be precise — in Delhi, and then, eventually, moved to Chennai (then Madras). The biography traverses the predictable path of recounting Hema’s childhood years, strict Tamilian upbringing under the watchful eyes of her mother Jaya Chakravarti and her rigorous Bharatnatyam training.

The transition from a stage performer to her film debut opposite Raj Kapoor in Sapno Ka Saudagar is all chronicled, but what is missing is the human element. What did a 16-year-old girl, who was making her debut opposite the biggest name in the industry at the time, feel about how fast her life was changing? Did she struggle with her strong Tamil accent in what was a predominantly Hindi speaking industry? What we get instead is a gilded portrait of an actor and a highly accomplished performer, who never fumbles and is praised by all.

The much talked-about scandal — her marriage to superstar Dharmendra, who was already married, is also kept under the carpet. While the love and affection the two share is brought out in the open, their courtship and wedding get no mention.

If you pay attention closely, though, the book is good for filmi trivia. One gets to know that the famous comic scene from Sholay — where Amitabh Bachchan advertises Dharmendra’s viability as a groom to Basanti’s maternal aunt, is inspired from a real life incident. Javed Akhtar, who co-wrote the film with Salim Khan, wished to marry Honey Irani.

Khan was dispatched to Irani’s family to win them over for Akhtar. Apparently, Khan kept singing praises of Akhtar and undercutting him at the same time. In the book, there’s also a mention of how Jeetendra was supposed to marry Hema, but, ultimately, married his long-time girlfriend Shobha, instead.

The book has some good photos, which chart the journey of Hema — her childhood, stardom, marriage and foray into politics, but again, every frame is perfect. Read only if you are a die-hard Dream Girl fan and want only the rosy picture without the warts.

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