Book Review: Flashback: My Life and Times in Bollywood and Beyond by Bob Christo

Title: Flashback: My Life and Times in Bollywood and Beyond
Author: Bob Christo
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 978-0-143-41462-9
Genre: Memoirs, Non-Fiction
PP: 263 pages
Price: Rs. 399
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I was a child smitten by Bollywood. I would love how the curtains rose and the projector made me see images I wanted to. The Hero, who no one could defeat, The Heroine, who everyone wanted to woo and The Villain, who no one ever wanted to be. Amidst the traditional Bollywood villains in those times, I grew up also watching and cherishing this one villain who was white and I wondered: Is he Indian? What is he doing in Indian films and how does he manage to speak such good Hindi? That but obviously was Bob Christo and as I was reading his autobiography, all my memories of his films came rushing by. From Coolie to Mard to Mr. India (who can ever forget the Jai Bajrang Bali scene) to close to 200 movies he acted in – I haven’t seen most of them, however Bob Christo is not a name people don’t remember.

And as Tom Alter mentions in the preface, no one could write a book on Bob Christo, but the man himself. Bob Christo’s life is nothing short of an adventure – from being a civil engineer in Australia to playing the baddie in Bollywood – one must wonder, how come? How did this man get to this stage in his life? He was also singing in rock concerts and modelled for African beer – while reading the book there were so many laugh-out-loud moments (shooting experiences and more specifically with stalwarths like Raj Kapoor and Mr. Bachchan) and so many moments when I felt this lump in my throat and didn’t realize why, till the emotion overcame me.

Flashback reads like a roller-coaster, you never know when the next turn will come and how high or low it will take you. It is about how the industry changed Bob Christo and his sensibilities to some extent – what he learnt and what he chose not to, and how being a part of the industry, he was also most of the time an outsider.  

I loved how Bob Christo wrote the book – from the anecdotes to how he felt to missed opportunities and the opportunities he did get. Flashback is a delight for all Bollywood lovers coming from a least expected source – a villain who I will always love and admire.

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