If you’re a serious Bollywood trivia buff (actually, there is no other kind), be warned: this book has very little personal trivia about stars. Fair enough; cinematic trivia gets us going too; it’s the heady stuff of late-night arguments and passionate debates.
But how does one explain why there is no index or even a contents page? The author doesn’t try to but informs you helpfully that the book is divided into “eight logic-less sections” and it’s “a book for dipping into”.
In effect, this means that you have to read the book in the same haphazard way that it’s been presented. So if you want to search for Aamir Khan’s third movie or the number of films in which Pooja Bhatt played a girl called Pooja, you’ll just have to dip, dip dip into the book.
In that spirit, here’s a helpful suggestion from us: read this book back to front. The first half is mostly brief synopses of movies that offer precious little that you didn’t know already if you’re even the average Bollywood buff. But Chaudhuri picks up speed in the second half, which has the best bits.
It starts on page 148 with a quiz called ‘Killer Kaun? that offers you clues (and answers of course) to some of the more famous killers in Hindi film history. ‘The Truth about Cats and Dogs: Filmi Pets’ (ah yes, that was the name of the monkey in Aankhen) or ‘Stop Press: Filmi Newspapers’ (what was the name of the newspaper Raveena Tandon worked for in Mohra?) bring back the guesswork. ‘Starting Small: 12 Low-profile Debuts’ make you wonder: how come I didn’t know about choreographer Ahmed Khan’s debut in Mr India?
You’ll have to search for the nuggets here, and take them as they come. So, too, the somewhat collegian style and humour. If you’re serious about your trivia, though, there’s plenty of fodder for arguments, impromptu quizzes and foolhardy bets. After all, the trivia buff, by definition, gobbles up any piece of information.
Bottomline: Plenty of fodder for arguments, impromptu quizzes and foolhardy bets
Kitnay Aadmi Thay?: Completely Useless Bollywood Trivia; Diptakirti Chaudhuri, Westland, Rs.275.