If it is true that karma is the truest form of yoga, oh that work is worship, then Raj Kapoor is indeed unexceptional karmayogi of the twentieth century. His dedication towards his work and his art has attained the level of Ishq of the Sufis. The only point of dissimilarity is that a Sufi or a real karmayogi can segregate his Atma from his karma and then blend with the parmatma. – Written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas about Raj Kapoor, originally published in Urdu in the book Sonay Chaañdi Ke But.
The book Yeh Un Dinoñ Ki Baat Hai published by Bloomsbury India is one treasure trove for Bollywood lovers, especially if you love retro. The translator and the torch bearer, responsible to bring all these memoirs come alive once again, is Yasir Abbasi. Had it not been for him these beautiful memories would have been buried deep, eating dust, in some corner of the archives or libraries.
The book is divided into three sections namely Pen portraits, Reminiscences and Perspectives. The first section are lives of legends like Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Manto, Satyajit Ray etc. as reiterated by the fellow artists or industry veterans. Every artists spoken about in this section happens to be my favorite, yet I really loved reading about Meena Kumari, Suraiya, Sunil Dutt, Satyajit Ray and Ashok Kumar.
Reminiscences section is in first person reiterated by the artists themselves. Here I would like to point the glaring contrast between Nargis’ portrayal of Kamal Amrohi in the first chapter and Kamal Amrohi’s portrayal of himself. I felt that Kamal Amrohi was overtly self-centered and the writing oozes that attitude and ego. When reading Johnny Walker’s part I felt that it’s Johnny Walker himself talking to me, I could so hear his voice in my mind! Sarcastically saying, Dharmendra tried his best to be indiscreet. And Dilip Kumar just proved once again why he still reigns our hearts! Javed Akhtar’s writing style as always was endearing.
Yes, I understand that the original write-ups were in Urdu and the entire credit for bringing out the best from these write-ups and also that of retaining the flavor goes to Abbasi, yet one cannot overlook the original writer’s contribution without which this book would have been impossible.
Third section is like a perfect closure to a leisure romance. Perspectives indeed gives us a perspective about the life of a cine artist. Be it Dev Anand, Balraj Sahni, Nasir Hussain, I. S. Johar other Qamar Jalalabadi, every person gifts us a fresh outlook. I could just bookmark the whole section, it is that good!
Ultimately, I would like to thank Yasir Abbasi for bringing forth such a beautiful book for cinephiles like me. Take a bow, sir. The translation is top notch, glitch free and most importantly the effect of the memoirs isn’t lost in the process of translation, which is a very crucial factor when it comes to translated works.
Just pick it up, cinephiles. You won’t regret it.
PS: Geetika Narang Abbasi, take a bow. Your art brings out the beauty of these stars effortlessly. You made them come alive with your sketches. Simply in love with’em ♥️
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Available: Amazon, Flipkart, In-stores