Funnyman and actor Cyrus Broacha speaks to Manasi Y Mastakar about his reading habits, favourite books and more…
An early reader
I started reading very much before school…I am an ’80s child and there was nothing else to do then, so reading was the only option I had when I was a kid. There was a Shemaroo library at Napeansea road and I had the opportunity of going there every weekend and picking up books. In my growing up years I have definitely read a lot, but later not so much.
Favourite books? Oh, that’s a very tough question to answer, because there are so many books that one likes! When I was young my favourite was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books and I have read all of those 20-odds books. Later, unfortunately, I got into comics and that destroyed my reading a bit…As a young kid I also used to like the Western genre a lot and I read a lot of cowboy books. In the classics I liked all the action ones like the The Three Musketeers, Robert Louis Stevenson books and the likes. But for the last 10 years or so I have been reading a lot of biographies. So, non-fiction is what I read most of the time…along with books on how to fix my marriage, how to fix my life, how to fix a window, how to fix tax problems, GST, which government to vote for and such. I also like reading a lot of historical books. I am reading the third version of Kublai Khan, I have read a lot about Genghis Khan, Mongolian empire, Alexander, the Mughal empire, World War I and II, Chandragupta…I am also fascinated with Ashoka.
Non-fiction. I hardly read any fiction. As a young boy it was all fiction for me, may be that’s the cynicism of life…post 20s, it’s all non-fiction.
Time to read
I like to read just before sleeping, because I wear reading glasses, and it’s no fun to carry them everywhere because people think you are old and without them I get to act like I am not…Also, while travelling they really come in handy. You are not always with people, and are most of the time waiting either at the airport, in the car…and when I go for events, I go alone and I am not internet-friendly so I am more than happy to read a book during that ‘waiting’ period.
Depends…If I have no work, I will read more…I normally put in 20-25 minutes a day in the night. As a kid, I definitely read a lot because I could finish a 200-page book very easily…but that’s gone. Now, it’s come to 20-30 pages…
I do my own research but my aunt is my book supplier. What I do is I tell her this is what I am looking for and she hunts those for me. Now, we have started going on Amazon, but that’s very recent…As a young boy going to a bookstore, smelling and rifling through books, was a very exciting time. Many a time the fun would be deciding what to buy, because you would have a budget for two and you would want 20…but that experience is now gone, because there are also very few bookstores left and most of them have become a tea and coffee shop with two books and more coffee and tea.
Old school all the way
I am not too happy with Kindle. I have read someone else’s Kindle and I found that most of the time they abridge everything and I am wondering if it’s the right version of the book…like 5000 words will become 4000 words! And, I am too old fashioned that way, so I would say physical books. I think in this T20 zamana, the world will change even faster and soon we will have a five-page book, and there is no fun in that, you might as well read a magazine article…which is what it becomes.
I have to find something new, because I just finished reading ‘A Corner of a Foreign Field’ by Ramachandra Guha, which is about a first lower caste cricketer in India… Guha is a superb writer; I am a big fan of his works. I read a lot of cricket books…So I am thinking of getting VVS Laxman’s biography along with a historical biography that I might come across.
From book to screen
I am not a fan of adaptations. Like, I prefer Woody Allen’s writings (Without Feathers, etc), which is fantastic, but the translation to screen is not as funny as the book. But, Tolkien, for example, comes alive in the movies with all the fabulous visual imagery…so I won’t argue where Tolkien’s work being adapted for the big screen is concerned, because it’s a fair one. Once you read the book your imagination plays a much bigger role…what you see with your mind’s eye is different from what the creator of the film will make. Tarzan, for example, as a young boy I loved the series, but I am not happy with the films at all because Edgar Rice Burroughs’ had a unique way of writing, which I find lacking in the movie.
I don’t want to be a part of any book adaption. I would rather prefer being part of a cartoon, Tom and Jerry and I would play Jerry because he never gets caught…and it’s such a fantastic idea, cat chases mouse and for almost 70 years it’s still selling!
Books inspiring films
I want to see Don Bradman’s biography ‘Farewell to Cricket’ made into a film. Though there are a few documentaries, there isn’t one authoritative biopic on Bradman, which I would love see (and I would play the lead role, though I am not Australian).
Classic I have claimed to have read
All the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen…
I would recommend Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ — I have read it cover to cover, but never managed to make even a single friend! I would also recommend anything by Woody Allen…who I feel is an underrated writer, and any book by Dave Barry, who is very funny.