Book Review: Hema Malini - The Authorized Biography

By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Hungama News Network

How boring can a book get? Well, flip through the pages of 'Hema Malini - The Authorized Biography' and you would get an answer. There are quite a few factors which add on to make the book one of the most strenuous and mechanical exercise:

a) It's print layout itself. A book which reminisces of a school/college text book, it doesn't come with an iota of glamour and is cruelly text heavy

b) Its narrative by author Bhawana Somaaya. Of course, everyone in media is aware about her accomplishments over the years in the field of film journalism but her writing style in the book is restricted to those interested in some 'serious reading'

c) Excessive focus on the relationship between Hema Malini and her mother

d) Close to half the book dedicated on Hema's position as a classical dancer. Of course, even the lady makes it clear that along with acting, dancing is her twin passion but for majority of her fans over the decades, she is still the 'dream girl' they have cherished on the screen rather than stage.

Due to reasons as above, 'Hema Malini - The Authorized Biography' turns out to be a painful read at number of places with only a few instances actually bringing on some exciting passages from her life.

To be fair to the author and the most successful leading lady in Hindi cinema of all times, many details from her life have been painstakingly gathered, analyzed and documented. It is a research which would surely have taken its own time, effort and energy. It is so easy for many authors to just do a desk research, gather a few quotes from the person whose biography is being written and spend some time with the ones dear and near to her.

However, in case of this book, it is much more than just visible that Bhawana has gone all out to make sure that not a single detail is missed out in her research. Of course, one can't say that practically everything would have eventually made it to the book since no one would actually expose his/her life's every intimate detail to the fullest in print for consumption to the world around her. Still, to Bhawana's credit, she seems to have got all the facts right, whether it is do with people, events or places.

This 200 page book gets alive in a major way mainly when, as expected, details around the blossoming love between Hema Malini and Dharmendra are put in words. The author understands that this is one area which has intrigued many for over the years and she catches the pulse of the readers well while exploring many told and untold stories about Hema's love story.

While many are aware that Hema's marriage to Dharmendra was being opposed by their families, not many know that Hema's mother had Girish Karnad in mind as her daughter's groom. In fact, she tried hooking them up together but that wasn't the case to be. Also, while Sanjeev Kumar was heads over heel in love with the 'dream girl' (a story which is known to all), even Jeetendra, who had otherwise taken Sanjeev Kumar's proposal to Hema Malini, later fell in love with her as well.

This isn't all as the book also gives a reader insight into how Jeetendra and Hema Malini were almost engaged before a quick turn of events changed the situation. For those interested in finding more about it, the book does provide some food for consumption.

However, apart from some interesting information like this, there are only few other details which make for an interesting read. For example, one gets to hear around how as a teenager, she was dropped from her first project, a Tamil film, because the filmmaker suddenly developed cold feet and thought that she was not 'heroine material'. Of course humiliation struck her hard and it was only later when none other than Raj Kapoor signed her on for Sapno Ka Saudagar did she set herself on path to glory. Words like 'She is going to be the biggest star of the Indian screen' coming from the Late Showman only boosted her confidence further and there was no looking back ever since then.

Those who have followed her career have known that Hema had started loosing her charm during the 80s, what with films like Ramkali, Aandhi Toofan and Durga hardly justifying her stature, even though they were successful. The book does mention about her sudden foray to B Grade cinema even as she was just out of prestigious projects like Meera and Razia Sultan.

While there are quite a few intrinsic details around her strong influence towards dance performances on stage, the book does mention interesting incidents around how even decades back, audience wanted her to break into a 'filmy' jig every now and then in the midst of classical performances. It was to Hema's credit that she stayed away from the temptation and instead persuaded her fans to watch her movies instead if they would rather choose to see her in a mode like that.

In addition, she also had a strict 'no revealing costumes' policy even in the most sensual/adult roles that she performed. Between all this, there is also a little write up on how she discovered Shah Rukh Khan and signed him on for Dil Aashna Hai after watching his dynamic act in 'Fauji'.

Still, interesting tidbits like these are far and few in the book which goes really deep down the relationship shared between Hema Malini and her mother and to an extent Hema Malini and her daughters - Esha and Ahana - as well. What makes one flip over the pages even faster (so as to see if something more interesting is in store) are the portions where the book gets really detailed around her classical dancing. In fact this happens most during the beginning and the end of the book which truly turns into an exasperating exercise. Result? It is only the middle portion of the book, that too in a limited manner, which succeed in hooking on a reader to go through this biography.

Price: Rs. 495/=

Rating: **

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