“Rekha breathed I LOVE your home. It’s so …” and then she paused dramatically. I waited expectantly for her to complete the sentence. She continued: “So ME.”
“When I bent down to touch Asha Bhosle’s feet, She told me in sugary tones that fat people find it difficult to bend so I shouldn’t bother.”
“Chintu Kapoor and his best friend Jeetendra were standing side by side completely comfortable in their skin and shooting the breeze with the rest of the inmates. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I won’t go into salacious details but all I can say is Jeetendra had a body to die for and Chintu Kapoor didn’t.”
Mining their own life experiences for humour has proved rewarding for many an author or stand-up comedian, and Joy Bimal Roy too quarries this vein well in his debut novel, Ramblings Of A Bandra Boy. Humour is both Roy’s sword and shield; he says “it helps me deal with the vicissitudes of time”. The 68-year-old has channelled this outlook into his just-released book, a collection of sharply observed essays on the many idiosyncrasies he has encountered while dealing with life and its denizens.
His famous father, cinema auteur Bimal Roy, was known for serious issue-based films like Do Bigha Zameen, Devdas, Bandini. So it’s not surprising to learn that Junior inherited his funny bone from his mother. Roy reveals with characteristic directness, “Maa was a raconteur par excellence and had people in splits over her tales.”
Roy, however, recalls being singularly unfunny as a kid. He is candid in his self assessment: “l had a lot of personal issues and rarely laughed. Instead, my unkind classmates laughed at me.” But even when he was in this dark place, the topper in English at Bombay Scottish school was discerning enough to admire and envy witty people who could engage in sparkling repartee. Amidst the rushed passage of years, he says he didn’t realise when the tide had turned and “people stopped laughing at me and began laughing with me. It was life-changing.”
The loner by choice harnessed his impromptu witticisms, and sitting solitary on his desktop started penning posts for Facebook. He didn’t anticipate the tremendous response. His quirky tales about celebs had his friends chortling and sharing them forward while his numerous mentions of his travails with J (his Man Friday Jagannath) reminded readers of Jeeves and our very own Busybee. After a chequered career, Roy had found his calling in life in writing. Roy’s burgeoning readership on social media and a nudge from close friends pushed him to consider publishing. After a famed publishing house sat on his manuscript for a year before finally passing it on because the material was in the public eye, Roy decided to self-publish. Much hectic organising ensued and the book was recently launched by Aditi Rao Hydari at a suburban bookstore. The emotionally fatigued author advises only semi-humorously, “Don’t write a book.” Paradoxically, he is also pleased with the response to the book which has snowballed organically, and says, “Vani Ganapathy launched the book in Bangalore, and launches have been scheduled in Kolkata, Hyderabad and Delhi.”
Roy has a wry authorial voice and one can detect a Wodehousian influence in the bon mots and irony that lace his writing. Raised on British authors, Roy cites PG Wodehouse as an inspiration and also commends Agatha Christie’s succinct, witty descriptions of people. “I admire anyone who can make me chuckle,” Roy says, “I don’t make a conscious effort to make people laugh. It’s my observations about people and situations which certain people find funny.”
Roy’s spot-on observations about film celebrities constitute some of the best portions of the book. In the chapter on Rekha, you get a sense of the star’s self-love and unpredictable behaviour. Sample this extract: “She breathed I LOVE your home. It’s so…” and then she paused dramatically. I waited expectantly for her to complete the sentence. She continued: “So ME.”
In another chapter, Roy states that he felt overdressed in a towel at the Sea Rock Health Club. Joy writes, “Chintu Kapoor and his best friend Jeetendra were standing side by side completely comfortable in their skin and shooting the breeze with the rest of the inmates. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I won’t go into salacious details but all I can say is Jeetendra had a body to die for and Chintu Kapoor didn’t.”
Joy didn’t shy from facing situations in which he was the target of sarcasm. When he bent down to touch Asha Bhosle’s feet, he writes, “She told me in sugary tones that fat people find it difficult to bend so I shouldn’t bother.”
As a film industry insider, a certain familiarity with the milieu informs Roy’s writing, but refreshingly, he is not treading on egg shells. Roy says, “How can I be star struck when I have seen Dilip Kumar come home, sit on the floor and single-handedly demolish a whole dish of shorshe maach (mustard fish curry)? Then he picked up the dish and slurped up the leftover gravy.” Roy’s ramblings include those on his travels, his holidays with his dad, his harrowing experience with filmmaking after his father’s death, his gastronomical adventures, his trysts with Godmen and his spate of missed flights.
This humorist’s arsenal contains irony, word play, deadpan wit and sarcasm. But the impact on the author himself is therapeutic. Roy says, “I find writing heals me. When I am feeling really low, I will myself to write something, even if it’s trivial, and my mood lifts immediately.”