Sunday, 2 March 2014

Book review – Supertraits of Superstars

Author – Priyanka Sinha Jha
Publisher – Rupa
Pages – 186
Price – Rs 195

Sneak Preview
In this one of a kind book, Priyanka Sinha Jha looks at eleven luminaries from Bollywood, and the attribute that is perhaps most responsible for their success. She details their stories, their struggles, their efforts to overcome setbacks, and what it is about them that made them not just reach the top of their game, but stay there.

My View
I have been a prey of the Bollywood bug since childhood. While my parents wondered how I could memorize all things filmy (and complain memory loss during exams!!!), Mr. Hubby and mom in law have conferred to me the title of “the great filmy Wikipedia”! Needless to say, I am the first one they look upto to validate who’s the name behind a particular song, history and geography of a particular actor, who’s hitched/dating/rumored to be dating whom etc. etc. While the KBC seasons were on, my mom in law had instructed everyone in the family “In case you get selected and face a question on Hindi movies, opt for Phone a friend lifeline, and call Shaivi”.

So, you can understand my excitement when Tales Pensieve sent a book on “Bollywood Superstars” for review. Knowing so much myself about Bollywood, I was curious to know the stuff that I donno yet! And Priyanka’s book lived upto my expectations. To call this book a compilation of masala incidents from the celluloid would be denying the author the due credit of her hard work. For, the book is much more than that.

We all love to gossip about the Bollywood stars, most of it being fragments of someone’s imagination. But, Priyanka has taken painstaking efforts in connecting us with the off screen star persons inside the Bollywood stars we see on screen. The book gives a beautiful account of the hard work and determination (and may more supertraits) of eleven Bollywood superstars(Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Balan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, John Abraham, Ranbir Raj Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar & Salman Khan). After having read the book, I can say I have been introduced to the people I never knew! These are people who take their craft seriously to survive in an industry where new competition comes in every Friday and one has to do the right thing at the right time to remain unfazed in the minds of the audience.

For instance, did you know Amitabh Bachchan’s unfailing punctuality has always given his Directors sleepless nights since they worry about reaching the sets on time themselves? Often been the first one to report on the sets of his films for even morning shifts, he utilized this time to water the plants etc! Shah Rukh Khan repeated a particular action sequence in Ra.One till he got the perfect shot, despite suffering from a knee injury. After Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak released, Aamir Khan would go into the projection room of the Gaiety Galaxy film theatre in Bandra to observe the audience’s reaction during various scenes – one of the many traits that has made him the epitome of perfection and excellence in Bollywood. The strong, determined artist behind the beautiful babe Katrina Kaif – do you know she has been brave enough to offer creative opinion to her Directors even as a newcomer, since one has to take risks to get the returns. While shooting for Rockstar, Ranbir Kapoor spent time with a Jat family and went shopping with them for the jeans he wore in the film, all as a part of understanding the character (Jordan, aka Janardhan, a Jat boy) better. As a newcomer in Bollywood, Aishwarya Rai Bhachchan negotiated her own deals and contracts, pretending that she had a lawyer who was putting down the terms and conditions! The book also tells the story of a skinny, under confident Duggu with a speech problem who worked his way very hard to give us the Hrithik Roshan of Bollywood. Salman Khan’s inherent generosity that he has displayed time and again since childhood.

These and many more incidents have been beautifully captured by Priyanka. Of course, her tryst with media has come in handy, but she too has displayed her craft well – after each chapter, there is a summary of the qualities displayed by the personality on the long road to success. The language is simple and each chapter is decorated with famous anecdotes which make the book a pleasure to read.

After finishing the book, my immediate reaction was “when do I read a sequel to the book?” For a Bollywood crazy person like me, eleven stars are not enough. Farhan Akhtar, Akshay Kumar, Madhuri Dixit…my wishlist is endless! I hope Priyanka comes up with a part-2 soon!

Needless to say, it’s a 100% recommendation from my side, if you share a passion for Bollywood!

About the author

Priyanka Sinha Jha is a journalist who, in her eighteen year-long career, has written on celebrities, films, lifestyle, business and more. She has been a correspondent for publications as varied as Citadel, The Asian Age and Intelligent Investor. At the age of 26, she became the editor of Society, India’s first celebrity magazine, followed by a stint as editor of HT Style and HT Saturday. Currently, she is the editor of Screen, India’s foremost film and entertainment weekly. She has also contributed to Outlook, The Week and Tehelka, and has a regular column in the Indian Express: Play. Between analysing celebrities and earning her daily bread, she likes to travel to unknown destinations, watch films and argue endlessly on egalitarian issues with friends and family. 

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.


  1. I want to read this book now. Interesting bits shared. :)

  2. Hey dint know the super filmy side of you... the book looks very interesting!!! Darn, i have so many pending but will reach out to this one on your recommendation...
    Would love to know more about Shahrukh...


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