‘Supertraits of Superstars‘ starts out by describing an average week in the life of legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan. It sets the tone for the rest of this self-help book, which also happens to be journalist Priyanka Sinha Jha‘s debut.
‘Supertraits of Superstars’ tracks the toils & travails behind the success stories of eleven luminaries of Bollywood, who have not only reached great heights but managed to sustain their success over time, earning them even more admiration from peers & fans alike. Each chapter, dedicated to one superstar, focuses on one particular supertrait of theirs – one that has played an undeniably huge role in their journey to the top & defined their time in the industry thus far. For instance, Amitabh Bachchan’s innate sense of ‘discipline’, Aamir Khan’s quest for ‘perfection’, Vidya Balan’s ‘reinvention’ of her own roles as well as the perception of the archetype Bollywood heroine or Katrina Kaif’s ‘perseverant’ attitude have made them the stars they are today.
Littered with anecdotes as any book about Bollywood would be, many of them would not be unknown to ardent readers of the Page 3 section but Jha’s standing as an eminent film scribe (she is editor of the entertainment weekly Screen) means she provides some great insight into what motivates these superstars into doing what they do to such spectacular effect almost every time.
Despite the limelight being on that one unique trait, Jha also talks about the little things that go a long way into making a significant contribution – illustrated through instances from their lives and excerpts from personal interactions with them. Say, Aamir Khan’s efforts to get everything right in the process of film-making is aided by his observations of audience reactions to his films from the early stages of his career, or organising private screenings of his films before release to understand whether it might work at the box office. Or that the bigger picture is what matters to Shah Rukh Khan, who is willing to perform at wedding functions & does too many product endorsements only so that he can make the films he’s passionate about. Or how Aishwarya Rai Bachchan didn’t pay heed to the criticism of her appearance at Cannes post-pregnancy, since it was her belief that one should know “what really matters in life”. Or that producer-director Karan Johar is all for being diplomatic when meeting someone he doesn’t know but doesn’t mince words when it comes to his closest friends in the industry. Another feature of this book is that Jha provides a summary to every chapter as each one ends. While it is not the first time I’ve noticed this in a book, it might prove helpful for those who like to make notes while reading.
Jha cites the fact that she has found inspiration in these stars on many occasions & though her intention to help the reader tread a similar path is indeed praiseworthy, her ability to convey the same through the medium of writing is in question. This is not to criticise her style of writing or her prose (which is fairly good) but the thing is that for an inspirational book, she needed to go that extra mile to make this book rise a notch above being just a fascinating account of the lives of these celebrities. For the book never feels to be more than a narrative (or an assimilation of them) & that limits the scope of this book to a reasonable extent.
‘Supertraits of Superstars’ by Priyanka Sinha Jha is by no means an extraordinary book, but it is a book about some extraordinary people whose lives make it worth a read. Recommended for Bollywood buffs & anyone who wishes to understand what it takes to live life star-size.
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