EXCLUSIVE: Bhawana Somaaya: Change is natural, life changes, so does cinema
Veteran film critic and journalist Bhawana Somaaya has been a witness to the making of many stars in Bollywood. She has also seen some of these stars fall apart. After spending more than three decades in the film industry she has personally experienced how the industry has come a long way from using ‘films’ to being completely digitized.
The critic, columnist and an author has penned down her experiences of being in the industry and knowing the stars so closely in her books. Amitabh Bachchan –The legend, Salaam Bollywood, Biography of Hema Malini, and Talking Cinema are some of the books to her credit.
After penning 12 books, she took up the task of documenting the milestones of Indian Cinema and that led to the birth of her 13th book Once Upon A Time in India: A Century of Indian Cinema.
Yesterday Once Upon A Time in India: A Century of Indian Cinema (OUATII) was launched and who could have been more apt person to launch the book, which traces a Century of Indian Cinema than the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan!
AMITABH BACHCHAN LAUNCHES BHAWANA SOMAAYA'S BOOK 'ONCE UPON A TIME IN INDIA: A CENTURY OF INDIAN CINEMA'
In a conversation the author talks about her book and Indian cinema…
How did the idea of documenting 100 years of Indian Cinema as a book strike you?
I have been compiling notes on the blossoming of cinema over the years and have done special features of milestone years for which ever magazine I edited. One day, I was looking at my old notes and thought that it was time to update the research. The process was long and tedious and at that time I was not thinking of a book. Then I added dialogues, then lesser known facts and before I knew a book was ready.
For an author all their works are special, so how special is Once Upon A Time in India for you?
If a mother has four children she does not love her last child any less than her first, similarly just because this is my 13th book it does not become any less special than my first book released in 1999. Yes, I’m more used to the process and therefore visibly calmer and not as anxious as I was during my debut release.
How long did it take you to finish this book?
This is a question I am asked time and again and there is no specific answer as I do all my books with my regular job as a journalist and now as a radio presenter but roughly the entire process of writing the book and the post production takes approximately a year.
There are many books on the subject of Indian Cinema, so what is different about OUATII?
The fact that it is in the form of a diary and is more about fun reading…It is not heavy in content and a nice way to recap the history of cinema for the present generation who are impatient to read anything that is long drawn and heavy stuff.
FILM-CRITIC AND AUTHOR BHAWANA SOMAAYA
According to you which phase of Indian cinema can be called as the golden decade?
I would choose the fifties because it ushered the new wave cinema and magnificent directors and music directors. The seventies were special too because the writing and the star system was dramatic and full of promise both on and off the screen.
Over the years the process of filmmaking and story-telling has changed drastically. How do you look at this? Is the change good or bad?
Change is natural, why should it be good or bad, people change, life changes so why must cinema be static. If it did not change it would be stagnant.
You are a critic, columnist and an author, what is more challenging for you?
I enjoy all three and feel they are connected so there is no division for me. Yes, there is a different mindset for all but I adjust to that without even being aware of it.
So what next..?
More books, columns, reviews and radio shows, writing film and theatre script too, let’s see if they happen, I don’t think so much, I just write…