You actually require just five minutes to get biased and announce a verdict loud and clear about the book. I did so myself! The moment one flips through the pages and greedily tastes a sound byte here, a picture there and a quick read somewhere in the middle of the book, you know that it would be hard not to enjoy reading the book. The expectations level are at an all time high in these few minutes itself; something which is akin to watching a full length theatrical promo of a big Bollywood blockbuster film and anticipating it's arrival on the big screen soon!
Thankfully, all the high expectations are met in totality, hence making it truly a collector's delight which can be find a place in your book shelf at least for one lifetime. No pun intended!
This one is no regular/usual behind the scenes kinda book! What you want to read are the quotes you haven't heard before in the 'hazaar' interviews by the cast and crew in the past. What you want to see are the pictures that have already not been seen in the film's promotional brochure. What you want to lend your ear are some gossips/tid bits/grapevine that have already not made it to the 5-scoops-a-day-tabloids. What you want to know are the actual hassles which took place rather than 'working in the film was like a picnic' or 'we were all as one big family'!
And guess what, you get all of this and more! So let's talk about that 'more' first. It is this 'more' which gives a definite edge to the book hence making it stand out as the one that would enthrall not just the followers of Bollywood cinema but also those who want to lay hand on that something extra. It is that extra about dedicated chapters on 'Junior Artists' and 'Reincarnation', ably titled 'Reflected Glory' and 'Borne Again' which makes you visualize the book differently.
To Mushtaq's credit, even though such write ups may have risked being drag/boring/depressing, he makes them quite entertaining. He gets into details like different brackets of junior artists being called for when it comes to a hotel or an airport or a marriage scene or a village setting. He divulges how different junior artists also get classified with different rate card for different scenes. That's not all, if you walk in and walk out of a frame, your pay packet is different from what you would if you are required to be drenched in rain. Interesting!
'Borne Again' is spooky yet exciting. Mushtaq does a little bit of research and Googling to find narrate some high profile cases of reincarnation in India that had made headlines some years back. And for some more information about real life imitating reel, find out what Shah Rukh Khan himself was in his last birth. The research says he was legendary dancer and actor Sadhana Bose! Read the book to know more.
50% into the book and you know that Mushtaq is a smart writer. He deftly handles various portions of the book and provides each of them a different flavor. So while some of the chapters have a core literature look and feel to it, others are told in light hearted tone. This is not all as there is imaginative writing coming into picture as well with one of the stories being told from an Assistant Director's point of view, the other has Mushtaq himself in a conversational mode with the film's crew while one of them is written in a screenplay mode. Easy for the writer since he is also one of the screenplay writers for the film Om Shanti Om.
However, the best is reserved for what perhaps has anyways been hailed as the best part about the film. The 31 star song, 'Deewangi Deewangi'. This is the place where Mushtaq lets his creative instincts get the better out of him as sets the stage with him and his Income Tax consultant looking at all the stars in awe as they take their places and shoot for the song.
Quite funny and one of the lengthiest write-ups, it has some great humor interwoven into the text since Mushtaq demonstrates how a civilian (that's how he calls a star struck fan who seldom gets a chance to see his idol in flesh and blood) reacts to all the glamour around. In one way, the write up seems to be his own alter ego coming into fray with an IT guy just being an excuse to be placed as a character into the story!
If the writer deserves accolades for his detailed work in the book, Ashish Pathak and Jochen Manz, the designer and photographer respectively, deserve full marks for their work too. They come together to make 'The Making of Om Shanti Om' a glossy fare which changes texture with every chapter boasting of a different layout, different font, picture placement and color combination. With no dull moment whatsoever as you flip page after page, it is hard not to hurriedly finish the content on one page (a lot of it on every page) and move on to the next to see what's in store.
Any blemishes in the book? Yes. What could have been one flawless fare is hampered due to the fact that there are some astonishing spelling/grammatical mistakes in the text, especially during the initial chapters. Some basic punctuation errors turn out to be quite alarming, as well as surprising, because one expects nothing but an impeccable product when it comes to a book for one of the most prestigious films of the year. Also, the writer has some reputation to maintain, especially having multiple books on Bollywood to his credit and hence it is disappointing when some glaring gaps like not just sentences but even paragraphs repeating at more than just a couple of instances!
Anyways, ignoring all of this, one is bound to cherish this book which continues to celebrate the book even after it's release. It is a must read at least once and though hardcore film buff may not mind having a second read too, at least the pictures would make most refer the book multiple times. The moment you lay your hand on 'The Making of Om Shanti Om', it's hard not to exclaim 'wow'! Yes, you do expect ton loads of content and some exclusive behind the scene information to be unveiled in this Mushtaq Sheikh book but all of that is expected once you start turning over the pages.
Before that it's the book's cover (yes, this time around the saying of 'never judge a book by it's cover' is proved untrue), styling and overall packaging that makes you plan for three spare hours and find an isolated corner pronto to enjoy an uninterrupted, undisturbed and concentrated reading of this book which turns out to be as entertaining and as blockbuster material as the Farah Khan film has been in itself!
Farah Khan has made an interesting statement - "I think the only crime in movie making is to bore your audience". Well, Mushtaq Sheikh follows the same theory for his book too and the results are there for all to see.