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August 11, 2012

Notes on Diptakirti Chaudhari's 'Kitnay Aadmi Thay?'

Author: Diptakirti Chaudhari
Publisher: Westland Publications

Kitnay Aadmi thay is like a wet dream for any Bollywood movies trivia collector. It has little structure and even lesser logic, but that’s all the more reason why it is so much fun in the first place – just like our own Hindi movies. Of course, the book is not for every literature lover but then when you can guess a Bollywood fan taste. So the narrative pretty much takes you through the last 60 odd years of movies, filling with nuggets which are hard to ignore or resist.

What was the name of the film they were shooting in Rangeela? What was the Amul hoarding when Shahenshah released? Who has the longest-winning streak in Filmfare awards? Did Johnny Walker get his name from the whiskey or was it the other way round? Who will star in Bajirao Mastani when it finally gets made?

The book gives factual, entirely useless and mostly unknown information of Bollywood. Most of this information will be not new for hard core movie buffs, but when compiled in a chapter form with examples thrown in from over 60 years of watching movies, it is unbridled joy.  Lists like Shortest and longest names of movies, movies within movies, favourite or most famous filmi pets are weird, yet reconfirms the fact why we love watching movies in the first place - to have fun. To garner interest. To live again.

There are sections for the portrayal of Parsis, Punjabis, the South Indians and the Bengalis in Bollywood movies which i immensely enjoyed in the book. There is another section for regional actors who made in big in Bollywood, and those that didn’t, followed by the lists of actors who came up on their own without filmi-backgrounds and then there are star kids who made it big and those that didn’t. You can read about the influence of a myriad of fields on Bollywood in another section and that's when you start feeling the method in the madness of this book.

You will still come across situations where you'll feel some of the lists are incomplete and that's my only concern.Having read the book, the only question which remains unsolved is how to keep the book updated in the future editions. The author does not intend to do so and insist that the readers themselves will keep adding to it. It may be a novel idea to keep the readers interested but in my view it needs to be in sync with times. That's probably the only way out to keep the book fresh and in mind of readers.

I am going with 3.5/5 for Diptakirti Chaudhari's 'Kitnay Aadmi Thay'. Read it to enjoy the fun, mad ride of Bollywood. There is a studious feel to the whole book but if you are a big Bollywood fan like me, it is highly unlikely you will be bored for a minute. As they say, let the picture begin!

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