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Racy biographies on two showbiz icons `

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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"Hall Of Fame: Shah Rukh Khan", "Hall Of Fame: Aishwarya Rai". Written by Biswadeep Ghosh and the editors of Stardust; Magna Publishing Company Ltd.

Star biographies are so rare in our land of celluloid deities that you grab one, and then another, with greedy fingers merely to see what goes on between the covers.

The two biographies on Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai don't disappoint... provided you aren't listening for the voices of the author's subjects in the text.

Neither Shah Rukh nor Aishwarya figures first person in the narrative. That's just as well, considering stars tend to romanticise their lives and gloss over the more unpleasant aspects. What we get is an interesting cross-section of views provided by family and friends.

The Shah Rukh Khan biography is marginally more insightful.

Shah Rukh has always been a curious mix of an enigma and an open book. And that's how author Ghosh treats him. The material provided on his antecedents, his parental background and his ancestral heritage are all interestingly put forward.

But in the absence of a first-person voice, the biography depends on secondary sources like a director who signed the star for a shelved film or a character actor who played a small role in one of the mega-star's films. Hardly what one would consider authentic sources.

Ghosh has his facts on his fingertips and he writes with an unpretentious clarity, which holds the two biographical sketches in good stead.

The Aishwarya Rai book is slightly more speculative, gossipy and aggressive. Too many reviews from websites and pages and pages devoted to the Salman Khan affair make this biography a voyeur's delight.

Interestingly, Aishwarya comes across as principled and focussed even though the biographer concentrates on the messy side of her life.

More than a vignette but less than a comprehensive low down on the stars, the two biographies are know-your-star guides which give us a bit more serious reading matter than the gossip magazines. They are written in a racy manner and contain cute anecdotes and titbits that provide coherence and completeness to the narration.

In short, a good beginning for literature on the two icons of showbiz. Now we want more.


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