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July 2020

Sepia Stories Part 30 – Day 1860

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Looking back, none of my books have been an easy journey. There were hurdles in the process of writing or in the process of pitching or in the process of releasing them but finally the obstacles were overcome. I was visiting my sister in Ahmedabad when two young boys came to meet me with an idea. They had done extensive research on garbh sanskar and wanted me to do a book for them.

My first thought was but I have no experience of motherhood so how can I write a book on the subject but they were convinced I was the right candidate and so got down to doing the job. I followed their conviction and, in the process, began enjoying the journey.

Creation of human life is a magical experience. While our ancestors described it as a blessing from the Almighty, our Vedas and Upanishads dictate that everything that happens in the universe is predetermined from the moment the foetus takes root in the uterus.

It is a misconception that the child begins to learn after he/she is born. The child begins absorbing learning from his/her surroundings as a foetus. Everything that happens to the mother during the nine months of pregnancy directly or indirectly affects the baby’s mental, intellectual and spiritual growth.

It is researched that millions of new mind-cells develop every moment inside the womb of a mother and if they are not immediately directed to the outer world, these cells become dormant. Therefore, it is imperative that pregnant women are enlightened on the subject of Shaping of Seed – Ancient Wisdom of Garbh Sanskar so that they make optimum use of the information and nurture their unborn.

The credit for the green and mauve book cover goes to Publisher Deepika of Aslan Reads.

So, what story am I telling you next week? Aah, is not going to be a book story because for that you will have to wait till October.

It is not going to be Sepia Stories and maybe not in this space either, nevertheless the blog continues and those keen to follow can log onto www.bhawanasomaaya.com/ blog

Sepia Stories Part 29 – Day 1859

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Chalo Cinema in Gujarati is a collection of my columns written for Dainik Bhaskar and translated from English into Gujarat by the publication. The book is published by Navbharat Sahitya Bhandar and was released at a glittering event in Ahmedabad at the hands of Aruna Irani, a legend in Gujarati cinema.

Chalo Cinema is actually my fifth experience into Indian language translations. The first book to be translated was Take 25 into Marathi and published by Mehta Publishing House in 2004. The publisher came home with the writer, I approved of the idea and a few months later he came home with the copy of the book, as simple as that.

Salaam Bollywood was serialized in Screen when I was attached to the publication and also in Gujarati paper Samakaleen, part of the Indian Express Group later the in Gujarati translation was published by Navneet Publishers in 2005 followed by Macmillan India Ltd coming up with the Hindi translation of Amitabh The Legend as Ek Jivit Kinvadanti in 2007 and  finally Hema Malini  Biography by Ameya Prakashan in Marathi in the year 2008.

Sepia Stories Part 28 – Day 1858

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My second book on Lord Krishna and to not confuse it with the first I called it Keshava.  It was conceived as a book on Tulsi originally but the word count was insufficient for a book and I began thinking how do I add more chapters when I came up with the new idea of the book.

There’s something about Lord Krishna that makes everyone who comes into contact with him – consciously or subconsciously- become consumed by him. He becomes the centre of their existence and that is Sri Krishna’s magic and also his power on not just humans but on everything that breathes on the planet.

Everyone who comes into contact with him believes that Lord Krishna loves them the most and probably he does.

Keshava: A Magnificent Obsession is the story of these special bindings, it is a journey into the mind and the heart of Lord Keshava and his relationship with the eight breathing wonders of nature – the Peacock, the Flute, the Kadamba tree, the Lotus flower, the Tulsi plant, the Kamadhenu cow, the Conch and the Peepal tree.

Why and how they came to be associated with him and why we continue to worship all of them over the centuries. Stories of passion, stories of submission, stories of devotion and of uncontainable desire. Published by Fingerprint the book cover and the inside illustrations continue to bring me joy after all these years

Sepia Stories Part 27 – Day 1857

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1931: “De de khuda ke naam pe…” / singer WM Khan/ Alam Ara

1941: “Tum nahi aaogi toh ye dil doobte doobte bilkul doob jayega” / Laila Majnu

1955: “Kaun kambakht bardaasht karne ko peeta hai? Main toh peeta hoon ke bas saans le sakun” Dilip Kumar/ Devdas

1965: “Jinke apne ghar sheeshay ke hoon, woh doosro par pathar nahi phenka karte” Raaj Kumar/ Waqt

1971: “Pushpa, yeh aansoo pochh dalo…I hate tears” Rajesh Khanna/ Amar Prem

Once Upon A time in India looked back on the milestones of pre-and post-independence cinema, the montages of stories and the superstars who made us laugh and cry.

If you are a Hindi-movie buff, karva chauth immediately brings to mind DDLJ, and Easter probably reminds you of Anthony Gonsalves.

The idea was to recap the story of cinema like a fun story and celebrate it and which is the reason it includes fascinating facts and milestones of decades gone by. Structured in an attractive diary format and featuring iconic dialogues combined with trivia Once Upon A Time in India documents history in a contemporary style.

Combining original illustrations in Bollywood poster art style—depicting some of the most memorable scenes from classics— make this a volume to treasure even when the year is over.

Published by Penguin Random House India the book released in 2017.

Sepia Stories Part 26 – day 1855

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I started out to write this book on my own but the research involved was so daunting that I sought the help of two wonderful writers’ authors Jigna Kothari and Supriya Madangiri. We began brainstorming and enjoyed each other’s company so much that we decided to write the book jointly.
Jigna and Supriya have done many creative projects in partnership but this was my first experience as a co-author and there was not a trace of conflict amongst us from the first meeting to the final draft of the book. The only time we argued was when we could not agree on the title of the book but when one of us came up with Mother Maiden Mistress we collectively cheered and screamed Yes!


The book is a guide, an archive and an interesting study, the book documents and reviews the significant women characters – the mythical, the stereotypical, the rebel, the avant-garde and the contemporary – over a period of six decades.
It is a chronicle of the journey through different eras and ethos, where seemingly the more things have changed, the more they have remained the same.
Placing the characters in the social milieu of that particular decade, the book gives contemporary readers a nuanced understanding of the subject and the history of the nation and of Hindi cinema. It also connects the characters with the directors of the films and records how these images were also inflected by the costumes

Sepia Stories Part 25 – Day 1854

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How Amitabh Lexicon came about is an interesting by itself. I was with close friends and during a happy argument, one of them shouted a dialogue from Amitabh Bachchan film which was responded by another friend with another dialogue of the Bachchan film. The two friends went on and on enjoying the game and the rest of reminded the two of dialogues they had forgotten.
The incident set me thinking, an entire nation has grown up on Amitabh Bachchan films and there is not a single word, emotion that does not have a resonance in his films in fact if you choose random words from the dictionary you will very easily be able to connect the words to his films for example:
A for Arrow and the arrow is significantly visible in Toofan or B for bottle and the bottle is relevant in the narrative of Sharabi or C for Chain and the chain is the backbone of the story in Zanjeer or D for Dolphin and the dolphin plays mother to Amitabh in Ajooba and so on and so forth…
I put my mind to it and after a strenuous research the book was ready.
Amitabh Lexicon captures 2,833 head words of the English dictionary into films of the actor, a colourful joyride into Bachchan’s memorabilia imaginatively illustrated by the talented Indronil Maitra.
Forty-one years and 174 films (and counting) …Amitabh Bachchan has long since sublimated the language of cinema that is peculiar to Hindi films. He has worked its verbs, overwhelmed its adjectives, brought to life its nouns, subjugated its predicates and predicated its subjects. This does render it easy for a writer to describe his phenomenon but then, makes it equally difficult to, when one seeks to summarize it.


Nearly every word in the English language could find its place in the cinematic vocabulary of Amitabh Bachchan.
Therefore, this attempt, to take you through a Lexicon of his various personas on screen – scenes where he made you cry, laugh, and all shook up. Like he says in his film Namak Halaal “Lo karlo baat…aree English to aisi ave hain ke that I can leave angrez behind… I can talk English, I can walk English, and I can laugh English…”

Sepia Stories Part 22 – Day 1853

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In the year 1999 when I released my first book Amitabh The Legend, we were not able to use a large segment of the original manuscript because I had already exceeded the required word count.

The unattended file patiently sat on my desktop without complaining as seasons went by. It was when I was upgrading my computer that it caught my attention and I began updating the content. When I was ready, I pitched the idea to Osians because as connoisseurs of art, I was aware that Neville Tulli was in possession of all Bachchan film posters.

Bachchanalia -The Films and Memorabilia of Amitabh Bachchan is a collector’s item of Amitabh Bachchan’s 135 films over 40 years with film posters and stories behind the scenes. In his four-decade long career, Bachchan is a witness to all the turning points in show business both, on and off the screen.

He symbolizes the evolution of Indian cinema in creativity and in technology. His growing stature from an awkward struggler to a superstar is evident from his altering body language reflected in the film posters over the decades.

He stands testimony to the changing trends in cinema as well as the socio-political scenario in the country, the touchstone of the entertainment business.

The credit for this magnificently produced book goes to publisher Neville Tulli who dreams at large scale. The first time I held the book in my hand and leafed through the 100 odd pages traveling from Saat Hindustani/ 1969 to The Last Lear/ 2009 I was filled with admiration for the versatile actor and his body of work.

For 40 years the critics panned his films and career choices, saying he was repetitive and wasted in the mainstream movies. Today the same films are described as classics and his songs remixed and repackaged by the younger heroes.

Amitabh Bachchan did not pay heed to the brickbats and continued working. He valued time and opportunity and it is reflective in his filmography.

Bachchanalia is perhaps the only book till now to release at Mumbai’s NCPA Theatre and it was packed to the brim.A special book and occasion worthy of the  stature of the megastar.

Sepia Stories Part 21 – Day 1852

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Raj Kapoor always said that every film has its destiny to which I will add that every book has its destiny.

Most of my books have been unplanned and before the release, faced innumerable challenges but then the clouds have cleared on their own and one has quietly moved on to the next manuscript.

I am often asked how I choose the subject of my books, it is a difficult question to answer because most often the books have chosen me. Out of the blue an idea triggers and the heart gives a nod.

In the year 2008 I was in between jobs when I happened to listen to an audio presentation of author Kajal Oza Vaidya’s Gujarati book Krishnayaan describing his relationship with the three women in his life – Radha, Rukmini and Draupadi.

I loved the plot and was instantly attracted to the idea of translating it into English even though I had never attempted translations earlier.

I began working on the book feverishly because all of us – the author, publisher and me agreed that the English translation should be released on the Janmashtami day in Mumbai.

The spell of the magnetic deity during the writing is so special that I am superstitious talking about it.

And therefore all I will say about Krishna:The God who lived as Man is four things:

Lord Krishna was the eighth child of his parents.

I am the eighth child of my parents.Krishna The God who lived as Man is my eighth book released in the year2008 and this does not appear to me like a minor coincidence.Weapons cannot pierce through this soul and fire cannot burn it. 
Water cannot drench it and the wind cannot dry it.
The soul is eternal and therefore cannot be damaged, burnt, drowned. 
It is ageless, timeless and therefore eternal.
– Lord Krishna

Sepia Stories Part 20 – Day 1852

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Fragmented Frames was an effort to record a shift in attitude about what was happening on the
screen and also to what was happening behind the scenes. In the seventies and right up to the
eighties, film journalism was described as yellow journalism because film magazines reported
on the private lives of the dream merchants.
Then sometime in the nineties, I still don’t know why but it became mandatory for
newspapers to devote a full color page to films. I think it started as a break from serious
stories and slowly, the reader got addicted.
Come 2000 and entertainment had consumed the common man. From stray features over the
weekend, film stories graduated to headlines on the front page and gradually spread across the pages.
As the budgets of movies got bigger and the box-office collections captured the imagination of public, writing on cinema was suddenly looked upon with admiration.
Now the film writer was introduced as serious critic, a trade analyst and even a historian. It was the effect of the splendor of cinema.
In India and abroad, more and more students now opted for Hindi cinema as a subject for their
thesis. Fragmented Frames is a collection of my essays on varied aspects of cinema from mythology, theatre, television, superstition, children, marriage, mental health, literature, sex and more.
There are intimate chronicles of love and heartbreaks and also accounts of tragedies like fire
on the sets of Black and bomb blast at Plaza Theatre. The book celebrates film festivals and
holds a mirror to government bodies when they falter, at times subjective, at times reflecting on
larger issues, Fragmented Frames is an effort to record changing times.
Published by #PustakMahal the cover design was under the supervision of #RohitGupta and the book released at the hands of #Gulzar in tge year 2007.
Another book another week…

Sepia Stories Part 19 – Day 1851

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Hema Malini The Authorized Biography was released in Delhi at the hands of LK Advani and the Marathi translation of the book was released at the bungalow of late Chief Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh.


Hema Malini said that to agree to a biography reflects a state of mind, it means you are ready to reflect on your past actions. She said that a part of her was ready for the exercise because it meant she was ready to accept her inadequacies. She discussed it with her daughters and both Esha and Aahana gave her a thumbs up but there was one more approval to seek, the most important in her life, her mother. As always Jaya Chakravarthi was more than encouraging. She told Hema that she should have done the book long ago and she must not fear anyone and anything because it is her life and she has to live it her way. And that is what Hema Malini did, she spoke her way, the way Amma would have approved of.
To be continued