Talking Films (with Javed Akhtar) || Nasreen Munni Kabir

Rating : 10/10

Review by Ankur Sardana


Conversations have three levels: people, incidents and ideas. The lowest form of conversation is about people. When we go up one rung we reach incidents which have a slightly larger spectrum than talking about people. But the conversation which really matters is when we talk about ideas, because they are universal and live beyond time and space.” –  Javed Akhtar

And this book is mostly about ideas of Javed Akhtar, nudged passionately by Nasreen Munni Kabir (NMK). And thank God she did that as he himself would surely never take the effort to write a book . He can speak and likes reaching out but as he admits, he might never become that director which he always wanted to be, for the lack of that huge pull.(She did that again, years later for another book with him, more on that in another post)

Every time you hear the man speak, he draws attention for the clarity and edge in his statements. His voice in today’s India is very important and well respected. Although the book is about conversations which happened in late nineties, it shows glimpses of the powerful, unmatched orator that he is now. I somehow don’t like when he is anchoring a show or hosting a show, his might is really visible when he is questioned and provoked.

Have a look at this fascinating discussion between Sadguru and him.

Other than religion (or the lack of it), he has his favourite topics – India and Hindu tolerance, Urdu and its importance and Indianness, Views on accepting modernisation, Language and the lack of vocabulary, Views on Amitabh Bachan, His lethargy, Views on song composition, AR Rahman. All of these and much more keep coming back and forth in his statements in public. The book chronicles quite a few of these.

NMK for all film lovers is the ideal student of Indian cinema. She has been an objective bhakt to this industry since the years she shot Movie Mahal. Which is a huge service to Indian film fans and industry. The episodes are all available :

Her interviewing/conversational skills are unmatched. In fact, this style of book writing, which becomes something between a biography and autobiography : talkography is something she has mastered with similar styled books with other masters like Gulzar, Waheeda Rahman and Lata Mangeshkar. Her documentary film background influences her interviews and her knowledge, love and dedication for Indian cinema influences the ones speaking to her. It creates a magical conversation where we, the readers can view the interview where the master being interviewed is not scared of the camera.

She says in an interview that her extent of cinema understanding is limited to a time period, but like an idea, the topics she brings up, the way the conversations flow, all that she ends up producing is timeless.

Her documentary on Amitabh Bachan :

Do get hold of all her documentaries and books. She is the most useful Bollywood fan around !

At Amazon


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