Documenting iconic cinematic trajectories is no cakewalk; turns out it may involve chasing quotes and tracking sources across oceans over the course of many months.
“You really have to like and respect the person you’re writing about; you’re thinking about them, you’re watching bad films with them in it. I have watched so many bad films of Priyanka Chopra and Shashi Kapoor and you try to get some sense as to where this actor is going. Priyanka was someone who really impressed me - what she was during Andaaz and what she had evolved into when she did Bajirao..,” says Aseem Chhabra, who has penned books on Irrfan Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Shashi Kapoor.
For this year’s Odisha Literary Festival, Chhabra joined fellow authors Satyarth Nayak (author of the widely acclaimed biography of Sridevi) and Karishma Upadhyay (whose book Parveen Babi: A Life came out earlier this year) to talk shop with author and journalist Kaveree Bamzai and TNIE’s Entertainment Editor Sudhir Srinivasan specifically about researching icons.
The art of writing film biographies | OLF2020 | EE88 https://t.co/zvYzbypiEd— The New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) November 29, 2020
“For Shashi Kapoor’s story, it was really important to look at the man, his career and what he was like and not make it into a gossip-led thing. He has grandchildren and this is essentially his legacy and they’re going to read it,” Chhabra adds.
And of course, Sridevi’s death is something that comes up all the time, “People ask me about Sridevi all the time, was she murdered or was it an accident? But we’re not investigative journalists. The story is out there and corroborated by credible voices,” Nayak shares.
“It was the same for Parveen, there was a lot of talk around mental health, but I tell people there are police reports, photographs and everything, your conspiracy theories don’t make sense,” Upadhyay shares.