Starry stories
Reviewed by 
Aradhika Sharma

by Khalid Mohamed
Om Books. Pages 293  Rs 395

The book by 22 film personalities is the brainwave, and a good one, of Khalid Mohamed, the eminent film journalist, writer and director of movies like Zubeidaa, Mammo, Sardari Begum. These films are remarkable for his sensitive exploration of strong woman characters. Faction, the blending of fact and fiction, is a collection of short stories by starry writers, with whom he has been in contact with.

A journalist for 30 years, Khalid has closely interacted with generations of actors and performers. The book, he says, helped him see them in a new perspective, and so does it help the reader. The storytellers reveal much more of themselves in the stories that they wrote/told than in any TV or print interview. The candidness is rather touching. Says Khalid in the Foreword: "We often end up glorifying artistes. This book gave me an insight into their lesser-known facets. Akshay's account was sensitive; Arjun's experience was vivid and humourous. Sonam has told a story that borders on chick lit but makes for interesting reading. The film personalities who have contributed to this collection include Ashok Kumar, Ashutosh Gowariker, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Deepika Padukone, Farah Khan, Basu Chaterjee, Sai Paranjape, Karan Johar, Nana Patekar, Sonam Kapoor and Shekhar Kapoor. Mainly based on their real-life experiences, they are disparate in narrative, experience and style. Most of them follow a linear narrative. While a few are thought-provoking; some are amusing, some entertaining, and some, well, boring! The more reflective and 'real' side of these stars is seen. Without the bravura of their on-screen presence, stripped of rumours and scandals that surround them, they tell stories about incidents in their lives that touched or shaped them. We get to see vignettes of private lives. Karan Johar was in school when he met Mr. and Mrs Pinto (the name of his story) as was Akshay Kumar when he took the local train to school and met a couple, fellow travellers who later romanced and tied the knot. (Love on the 7.45am Local). Sonam Kapoor’s Girl's Night Out tells of the three girls in a boarding school in Singapore who, after their last exam go to town to have a good time. Ashutosh Gowariker, on the other hand, treats the readers to a "true" ghost story, while Rishi Kapoor tells you how he used telegrams to reach his first girlfriend in the romantic story named A Different Kind of Olympian Sport. Arjun Rampal's New York Days, New York Nights, about a model who wants to make his career in New York, leaves you wondering what that was all about? Ashok Kumar's Calcutta, left incomplete and completed by Khalid later, stands out. Basu Chaterjee's story too has a classic feel to it. Not imbued with the best literary values, the book works because of its variety and the very idea of your favourite filmy person writing a story. In short, it's a paisa- vasool book!