Book Review: First Day, First Show: Writings from the Bollywood Trenches by Anupama Chopra

Title: First Day, First Show: Writings from the Bollywood Trenches
Author: Anupama Chopra
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 978-0-143-06594-4
Genre: Non-Fiction, Reviews, Column Writings
PP: 376 pages
Price: Rs. 499
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are two things that we as Indians are most fascinated by – Cricket and Bollywood. We love our stars – whether on the field or on the silver screen. We idolize them and loathe them; we aspire to be them – so much so there are Bollywood Star posters in almost every Indian Household. We also worship them – temples are built, babies are named after Super-Stars, and as the screen goes up and the projector reflects images on the screen, we dream of another world. A world that is flawless. A world which most Indians are comfortable viewing from the outside and forever being in awe of it.

As far as I can remember, while growing up, Bollywood was a topic of constant discussion in my Big Fat Sindhi Family. Instead of newspapers, my father, uncles and aunts grew up on Screen and Filmfare. My grandmother would demand a Friday night film every weekend. My Dad refused to marry on a Wednesday as he would have to miss his Chhayageet. What I am trying to illustrate here, is that this in a way, according to me, is the story of almost every Indian Family. Why am I talking about all this? Well, I have just finished reading a marvelous book on Bollywood – right from the 90’s to date and while reading it, all I could think of is the connection I share with Bollywood (though at times I hate to admit to the fact that I love it and can’t live without it. However, we shall let that one pass) and any book that manages to evoke any feeling in the reader, is bound to be recommended to one and all. So here goes:

First Day First Show is more than a book about the Indian Film Industry. It chronicles the economic and social change so to say that was brought about by films and the Industry. The transformation in lifestyles, the movies that made people think and the movies that served as pure entertainment – all of them rolled together as seen through the eyes of the famous movie reviewer (I refuse to call her a critic as she is my most favourite when it comes to wanting to know more about movies) – Anupama Chopra.

This book is a selection of her writings dating right back to where she had written about Sholay to Devdas and also to pieces about Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and DevD – the writing is varied. The pieces are short and to the point and I laughed my heart out through most of them – for instance the one that very straight forwardly ripped the movie Jimmy to where she with great candor talks about the underworld and the Bollywood connection.

Like the famous adage goes in the industry, “jeena yahan, marna yahan, iske siwa jaana kahan”, Anupama Chopra does justice to this through her book. From talking about the financial crisis faced by producers a couple of years ago to the costume designers for lavish song and dance routine, she does not leave a stone unturned. The writing is lucid and does not tire you at any given point of time – in fact if anything else, I just wanted certain pieces to go on, like some reviews such as Agyat (which is hilarious to the bone), to the one on Columnists (again biting however not bitchy) and my most favourite piece in the entire book – the one on Shahrukh Khan – it is candid (like almost all pieces) and from the heart.
All in all, First Day, First Show makes for a great afternoon read on Bollywood and its sizzle, its fame, its heartbreaks, its successes and its failures. Bollywood is as it is seen through the eyes of Anupama Chopra. Definitely a treat for the mind and the eyes. To end the review, I would like to quote from the book, which sums up the book beautifully, “Pulp plus poetry. I think that is a near-perfect description of Bollywood. Which is why, twenty years later, I am still seduced”.

You can purchase the book here on Flipkart

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: First Day, First Show: Writings from the Bollywood Trenches by Anupama Chopra

  1. Pingback: South Asian Review Database - “C” - S Krishna's Books

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