Tag Archives: The Householder

Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, the Star by Aseem Chhabra

Shashi Kapoor - The Householder The Star by Aseem Chhabra Title: Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, the Star
Author: Aseem Chhabra
Publisher: Rupa Books
ISBN: 978-8129139702
Genre: Biographies & Autobiographies
Pages: 216
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

I remember asking my mother when I was a ten-year old boy: “Mom! Who is your favourite actor?” and she answered unflinchingly “Shashi Kapoor”. I could almost sense a sly smile as she uttered his name. It was almost like she had betrayed my father by uttering that handsome actor’s face (of course I would know it later as to how insanely crazy she was when it came to him). I did not understand then about a young woman’s desire when it came to her favourite actor and let it pass. I was ten after all.

After almost two decades and two years, I got the opportunity to read the biography of that very actor by Aseem Chhabra titled, “Shashi Kapoor – The Householder, the Star” and it all fell into place. Why was my mother crazy about him? Why did his films matter so much to her? Why would she insist of even watching all Merchant-Ivory productions in which he acted and they weren’t even mainstream movies, which my family would gorge on?

At the same time, some of the family members for the life of them couldn’t understand that how could a man play a role in movies such as Deewar, Trishul etc and still continue to work in “art films” (they used to call them that) such as Junoon, Kalyug, etc. It is perhaps for this versatility of roles and acting skills, Shashi Kapoor was the go-to-guy. Maybe that is why because he was so busy during the shoot of Satyam Shivam Sundaram, that Raj Kapoor dubbed him “Taxi”. All said and done, it was these anecdotes and more you should read what Aseem has written about the star.

I mean more than anything I have always been a fan of Merchant-Ivory productions – I have almost watched all their films and then while I was watching their movies growing-up, I would be jubilant that here was a face I could recognize and how come this Indian actor spoke such great English – he of course was Shashi Kapoor and then slowly, but surely, I fell in love with my mother’s favourite actor.

To know that it was his production house that produced movies such as 36 Chowringhee Lane, Utsav (well I know most people think this movie makes no sense at all, but personally I love it), Kalyug and Junoon, I fell in love with the book even more. What I love about the book is Aseem’s attempt to make readers and film-goers world over not only meet Shashi Kapoor the actor, but also the man behind the actor and the movies. His life is spoken about throughout but very nonchalantly – almost as though it is there for you to see, but only if you try reading between the lines. At times, Aseem even gives it away on a platter to the reader.

“Shashi Kapoor – the Householder, the Star” is a book about the generous spirit of the man – as a human being, actor and producer. It was Shashi Kapoor who was the first so-called “crossover” actor and also among the first who took to stage the way he did and created an institution called Prithvi Theatre which still runs strong in Mumbai.

I love the book. I love its nuances – the way Aseem has researched it and the amount of time it took him to give shape and form to it. It is almost no one else could have written about the actor but Aseem. There is so much empathy when he speaks of Jennifer and the effect she had on Shashi’s life – both as a professional and his wife. I think as a person who loves Bollywood and everything about it (well almost everything about it), this book was not only a revealer of sorts but also refreshing – it is about a man that not much is spoken or written about (not at least now) and I loved the way it is structured and written. If you are a Bollywood aficionado and even if you aren’t, you must read this book only because Shashi Kapoor deserves to be known the way Aseem wants you to know him.

Book Review: The Householder by Amitabha Bagchi

Title: The Householder
Author: Amitabha Bagchi
Publisher: 4th Estate, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-93-5029-229-7
Genre: Indian Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 239
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

The householder is expected to set things right in our country. After all, he takes care of the household, doesn’t he? He has to manage a job, the perils of working for someone he may or may not like, the wife at home (who will or will not nag), the children (who will or will not demand), and then maybe some time for himself (if he manages to at all). That is the image of almost every common man that we conjure in our heads when we hear the term, “Householder”.

This is what Amitabha Bagchi portrays in his book, “The Householder”. I managed to read this book by chance and I must say that I was quite taken in by it. Initially, I found it difficult to settle into it – for obvious reasons perhaps – the story line, the way the book started off, however once I got into it; I was taken in by the story.

Corruption is at the heart of this book, and at various levels. The protagonist, Naresh Kumar, is PA to Shri R.K. Asthana, IAS. He is the so-called corrupt PA to his corrupt boss, depicting the physical form of corruption. Naresh has been involved in years of suspect dealings and under-the-table transactions for his boss and knows ways and means of covering the tracks. However, everything does not go as planned for Naresh in his life. Due to a mishandled case, his career is in jeopardy. His married daughter’s life is in distress. His son’s call center job is a cover for something darker. His wife expects him to solve all problems. That is the crux of the story – of a householder caught in his life, embroiled to an extent that he cannot recognize it anymore.

Naresh Kumar is struggling throughout the book. The reader empathizes with him to a large extent and hopes that things get better. That only goes to show the level of writing. The book does get slow at times, but then picks up pace once more. Amitabha writes about a world where money rules and nothing can be done without it – he presents the dilemma of a common man – of morals, of the metaphoric good and evil and the choices we make.

The reality of the situation in the book is believable at almost every page. The Delhi, in which the book is set, is cut-throat, the Capital that only understands the language of power and money. The characters are real and identifiable – wanting everything under the sun and knowing that maybe the means are not correct and yet, sometimes despairingly so left with no choices.

The writing is razor sharp and does not flinch from depicting the moral decay of our times. The book leaves the reader wanting more and with the knowledge that maybe there is some hope for Naresh and his family. That maybe the householder will not disappoint. At the same time, read the book to face some difficult questions it raises and the answers that can only come from within.

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