Veteran journalist and film critic Shaheen Raaj portrays the varied colours of showbiz with music, dance and drama in his debut book. Titled Nostalgia Revisited: A Colourful Trip Down Memory Lane, the book comprises of 52 chapters that throws light on profiles of Bollywood superstars like Dev Anand, Vyjyanthimala, Shah Rukh Khan, to name a few, along with singers like Mohammed Rafi, Ghulam Ali, and many more.
The book also sheds light on fashion trends of film stars, consists a chapter on magnus opus Mughal-e-Azam, speaks about movie remakes and has discussions on varied aspects of showbiz.
Speaking about the germination of the idea for the book, Raaj says, “While I was writing for the trade publication Complete Cinema, I used to have a regular column on Nostalgia. It was very interesting as to how the actors made a start and ultimately became stars. Now, since I have almost retired from journalism, I thought why not assemble everything together in a book format — my experience that spans more than three decades. And, I am grateful to Amazon for making me an author.”
The book, which consists of 52 chapters, has Bollywood biggies from yesteryears as well as that of the contemporary ones. “This book covers varied aspects and dimensions of the world of cinema. There are profiles of film stars like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Vyjyanthimala, Suraiya, Saira Banu, Shah Rukh Khan, Sanjay Dutt. It also features singers like Mohammed Rafi, Manna De, Ghulam Ali, Bhupen Hazarika, R D Burman, AR Rahman, O P Nayyar. Not just the stars but my book also sheds light on fashion trends set by film stars like the famous ‘Sadhna Cut’ of actor Sadhna, Jeetendra’s passion for white clothes and shoes, the trend of remakes and the making of magnus opus Mughal-e-Azam, an unusual chapter on the Jharkhand film industry.”
Featuring so many stars or getting interviews for his book was not an easy task. While some agreed to give him exclusive interviews, some would say ‘information is available, while don’t you write without an interview’. “But, that was not the way I wanted the book to be,” shares Raaj and adds “the personal touch of the star is important.”
Recalling an incident from his 1985 interview with the late Dev Anand, Raaj says, “When I went to interview the evergreen Dev Anand he almost shocked by saying ‘do you think you can become a journalist by just hanging a jhola on your shoulder?’ I was aghast and was about to leave. He then said he has already spoken to my owner Firoz Rangoonwala (Picture Post). And that my owner said that he would send his ‘shagird’ (which was me) to interview him (Dev saab). The great Dev saab then made me comfortable by offering drinks. It was one of the most memorable experiences.”
In 2009, Raaj says he got a chance to interview the beautiful Vyjyanthimala when she was in Bangalore to attend a dance performance. “I was fortunate as she singled me out for an interview,” he enthusiastically says. “Shah Rukh Khan, too, was in Bangalore to attend some function, during which I could manage to meet him for an interview in 2005,” Raaj adds.
Apart from interviews with these actors, the book also has interactions with Bollywood choreographers Ahmed Khan, the Slumdog Millionaire fame Longinus Fernandes and Sandeep Soparkar, followed by young actor named Basudeo Kumar who gave an insight into the ailing Jharkhand film industry and fashion designer Bibi Russell from Bangladesh. Then there is a special interview with Mike Pandey the president of Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA).
Renowned Bollywood filmmakers like Farhan Akhtar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, J. P. Dutta, Madhur Bhandharkar and Anurag Basu also get candid about their thoughts on the movie remake trend in Bollywood. The book is available in the ebook format and a paperback format on Amazon.
Ask him about next in his literary diary, he quickly adds, “My next book is Intimate Friends. It is an erotic and romantic saga of forbidden love, followed by a third book, Hello Papa, and the fourth one will be Murder Mystery in a Hospital.