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March 15, 2014

Quick thoughts on 'Supertraits of Superstars'

Author : Priyanka Sinha Jha
Publisher : Rupa & Co.

Rating : 2.5 / 5 

Supertraits of Superstars....Success Secrets of Bollywood's Brightest by Priyanka Sinha Jha looks at 11 stars from Bollywood, and the attribute that is perhaps most responsible for their success. She details their stories, their struggles, their efforts to overcome setbacks, and what it is about them that made them not just reach the top of their game, but stay there. Be it Amitabh Bachchan's discipline, Aamir Khan's perfectionist nature, Salman Khan's generosit, John Abraham's enterprise or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's grace - each star has one unique quality that others can learn and move forward in their lives.

As a journalist for eighteen years and now the editor of an entertainment weekly –Screen from the Indian Express Group, Priyanka Sinha Jha has met and interviewed many stars from the Bollywood industry, but it was a blog by the Bollywood stalwart Amitabh Bachchan that compelled her to think what goes behind the making of a star. The author employs the medium of pithy observations and conversations done with these stars during her journalist days.

Keeping my personal observations apart about the hard work film stars need to put in and the constant scrutiny they are subjected to, the book do provide some keen observations about the lives of these stars. For example : How SRK used his networking skills to rope in all the advertisers to invest in Ra.One rather than financing the project by a big studio which he could have been done easily. Or how Vidya Balan was bold enough to reject Anurag Basu for under-appreciated serial 'Love story' so that she can debut in Parineeta.

My major concern with the book is that it overlooks the fact how standing for these values, actors have suffered in one way or another for a long duration and somehow with passage of time they have been able to make peace with it. Take instance of Aamir Khan who was shown the door by Late Yash Chopra when he was constantly cribbing about joint narrations with Sunny Deol for Darr (1993). It's a fact of the matter than Yash Raj films did not worked with AK for years till Kunal Kohli directed Fanaa happened in 2006. The author fails to connect all the dots and is keen to delve into the positive side of these stars.

You want to know more about the business/emotional side of these stars like John does when he asks the author about the circulation of the magazine he is about to give an interview. There are small nuggets about filmi trivia which you would enjoy - like Ranbir acting in India, 1964 a short film directed by Abhay Chopra before making his big screen debut in Saawariya in 2007. or how Aishwarya rai who was shown the door for Mangal Pandey for asking too much money from the producer Booby Bedi.

But i am afraid these nuggets are far and few in between. Most of the qualities of these film stars are well known and stretching them over a book look laborious and borderline boring. I was also not particularly impressed by the numerous quotes inserted every now and then in the narrative which serves no purpose than breaking the flow of knowing about these stars. Read it if you know little about the film industry or Bollywood stars.

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

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