Title: "King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan and the seductive world of Indian cinema"; Author: Anupama Chopra; Price: Rs.395.00; Publisher: Warner Books
It isn't clear in this lucid treat of a treatise on the life of a Bollywood superstar whether it is about the seductive world of Indian cinema or the indomitably seductive powers of Shah Rukh Khan.
The two have been pretty much synonymous during the last decade. More books and films have been made on the life and work of this Khan than any other popular entertainer in this country.
Last year, Mushtaq Shiekh, a popular journalist and a close friend of the superstar, had put together what can only be termed a monumental labour of love. Shiekh's "Still Reading Khan" was a 500-pager with more pictorial passion and chatty chutzpah than I've seen in any star biography.
Anupama Chopra's ode to Shah Rukh's spellbinding stardom is far more intimate and compact, crisp and to the point, punctuated by bouts of humor occasionally directed at the star.
Her aim is to give us an insight into the running of that great big dream factory known as Bollywood while providing glimpses into the very private life of one of Asia's biggest entertainers.
There's a dichotomy about being Shah Rukh. Though the star is exceptionally exuberant, extroverted and fan-friendly, he remains at heart a very private person.
Chopra takes us to Shah Rukh's roots. Vignettes into the star's family life in Delhi, his parents and his sister, give to the account a kind of fascinating frisson found to be absent in most biographic accounts on celebrities.
The author has studied and comprehended the Shah Rukh phenomenon from very close quarters. Admirably, she steers clear of turning her account into a dry academic discussion on Shah Rukh's art and craft.
What we see is a mercurial, spontaneous, passionate and natural actor who is capable of going from malice to magnanimity, from teasing co-stars to playfully heckling fans without making either action look unjustified.
Especially notable are the portions describing Shah Rukh's demoniacal energy and passion to get what he wants.
In all fairness, most of the incidents described in the book are well known to Shah Rukh aficionados. Nasreen Munni Kabeer's outstanding documentary film, "The Inner-Outer World Of Shah Rukh Khan", covers just about everything there is to uncover.
The charm of Anupama's chronicle lies in its simplicity. The choice of words is almost always apt and the images created of the superstar's world are quaint and correct.
No misfit this icon. Shah Rukh, in fact, comes across as a star who takes his stardom so well in his stride that he leaves no room for pompous arguments.