ANUSUAL || ANU AGGARWAL

Rating : 1/10

With great respect for the courage of a person to fight back & have a second life, the book could be left aside by most.

I read the book a while back & was terribly disappointed, can’t even gather myself to dig deeper. Reproducing a review from Indian Express (Pooja Pillai) below, which pretty much sums it correctly.

“When director Mahesh Bhatt spoke at the launch of Anu Aggarwal’s memoir Anusual in Mumbai recently, he reminded his protege of the tagline that accompanied the first screen ads for Aashiqui, her debut film. “Expect the unusual”, he quoted, before adding that one can expect something along similar lines in the former model-actor’s memoir.

Aggarwal’s is indeed an intriguing story. She was a top student, who wanted to be a social worker. She stumbled into modelling after a talent scout spotted her at Churchgate station during a visit to Mumbai. However, in Bollywood, she would have been an odd fit, since the industry was still dominated by the ‘fair-is-beautiful’ dictum in 1990, when she made her debut. A few years later, she gave up the arc lights to study yoga and became involved with a swami. Then came her “near death experience”. The car she was driving early one morning, during torrential rains, turned three somersaults before crashing near Mumbai’s Chowpatty area. The accident left her in a coma for 29 days, with a shattered body. According to Dr Kartik Shah, the intensivist who treated her and who was also present at the launch, her recovery was a “miracle”. She now works as a yoga teacher and has developed what she calls AnuFun Yoga, which is her own way of teaching the ancient practice.

Given all this, her memoir should have been a more riveting read, and that it isn’t is down to Aggarwal’s decision to err on the side of concealment. Sudden shifts to third person narrative and self-congratulatory passages, all say a lot without telling us much. What was it like to work in Bollywood in the ’90s? Why, after so many years of shunning the limelight, has she written this book? Aggarwal maintains silence on all these questions.

At the launch, some glimpses of the real, unguarded Aggarwal slip through. She spreads her arms wide, as if to embrace the crowd that had come to see her, and asks, “Have you missed me?”. She says she’s grateful to everyone who has contributed to her journey, including the media. “You have misrepresented me, but at least you’ve presented me,” she says, a jibe at the many salacious stories that were once circulated about her.

But she really comes alive when talking about how yoga changed her life, and how it strengthened her inside out. Yoga is clearly a passion for her and even at the book launch, she cannot resist the opportunity to lead her captive audience through a guided meditation. “Let’s do a quick one, it will be fun,” she declares and everyone in the room obliges by closing their eyes.”

If you still want to buy the book, it’s here.

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