Buddy Hirani occupied the coveted spot in all the script readings and editing of the forthcoming film Sanju — the biopic on actor Sanjay Dutt’s life. He was the unalienable partner for director Rajkumar Hirani during the film. Many people would have given their right arm to be present in those hallowed spaces. A cocker spaniel, and a beloved member of the Hirani household, Buddy has had many vying for his company. He is now at the core of the book How to be Human: Life lessons from Buddy Hirani (Penguin). “It all started with me blogging my observations about Buddy’s life and how humans could learn and imbibe so much from him. I had written three posts — which became the first three chapters. I approached Penguin and they wanted 20,” says first-time writer and Rajkumar Hirani’s wife Manjeet Hirani.
Buddy, the subject of the book came to the Hirani household as a puppy named Nikku. He was cast as the suicidal dog in PK. A name change happened and Nikku became Buddy. “He did come to us in a very filmy way. But I was fascinated how he expressed his likes and dislikes. It also reflected in the way we are as family. Most people in India, when you say dog, think of only ‘unconditional love’. That is dealt with in the first chapter itself. There is so much more to learn and know about them,” says Manjeet.
The book has chapters on puberty, parenting, karma, mental health and drugs among others. All of them illustrated with incidents and anecdotes about Buddy and the Hirani family. It has the feel of a self-help book, without the preachy DIY elements. “Whenever we have guests over, Buddy gets hyper excited and has to be lured away with the help of treats. He gets sad about it, and he shows it. But later when he comes back into the room, he is so excited as if the incident never took place. I really think we need to be more like him. We cling so much to the past. If we could learn to let go easily, we would be saved from so much heartache,” says Manjeet, a commercial pilot who grew up all over the country due to her defence background. Incidentally, she never had a pet while growing up.
The book has a foreword by actor Dia Mirza and a note from Ranbir Kapoor, both citing their huge emotional dependence on their furry friends. “ We are living in very strange times. While I was growing up, we had huge families, which gave us a sturdy emotional anchor. Today most families have one child or maximum two, parents are working, whom do we turn to? And here we have these non-judgmental companions who are just there, no questions asked. I think the Western world has truly adopted them as companions,” says Manjeet, who has been invited to several forums, including the London Book Fair. She is already working on her next book on her journey as a pilot.