'Bollywood seduced me towards itself'

Critic's take

She dreams Bollywood, sleeps Bollywood, eats Bollywood and that is why Anupama Chopra is what she is today. She is an author, a critic par excellence and a host of the popular film-based show ‘The Front Row’.

Anupama, being one of the popular faces of the glam world has been writing about the Hindi film industry since 1993. She has also written a biography of Shah Rukh Khan titled ‘King of Bollywood - Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema’. The book was the first Bollywood book to be published by a mainstream
American publisher ‘Warner Books’. It was highly acclaimed and featured on the editor’s choice list of the New York Times Sunday Book Review. The book was also translated into German, Indonesian and Polish.

Currently enjoying her stint on television, Anupama spoke to Metrolife about her chat show. “It has been a great journey for me, I had many memorable moments with my guests on my show. But the most distinct ones are of SRK and Amitabh Bachchan. If on one hand SRK was easy, funny, articulate and laid-back, Big B was the toughest nut to crack. He just wouldn’t reveal anything,” she recalls.

On educational front, Anupama received an MA in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She received top honours at Medill, winning the Harrington award for ‘academic excellence and promise for success in the field of magazine journalism’. She has a BA in English Literature from Bombay University and was also awarded the Dwarkanath Purushotham Gold Medal for academic excellence by the university.

When asked whether it was an obvious decision to get into Bollywood, as she is always surrounded by filmmakers, scriptwriters, novelists, etc, she laughs and says, “Bollywood just happened by chance. Actually Bollywood seduced me towards it and here I am today.”

Her husband Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a leading filmmaker. Her sister Tanuja Chandra is one of the few extremely successful women directors in Bollywood. Her mother, Kamna Chandra, is a scriptwriter and her brother, Vikram Chandra, is an award-winning novelist who has also written Hindi film scripts.

As part of the Hindi film fraternity and knowing it inside out, Anupama has to see all kinds of films as part of her job – from good to bad films. Sharing her thoughts on this, she says, “You know plenty of bad films are made today and it is really sad to see both money and talent go waste on a big budget film, say  like Himmatwala.”
“But, Bollywood is also going through a very wonderful period as various kinds of films are being made today. Film students are also getting huge exposure in terms of world cinema and getting to learn more. But, the only sad part is lack of time to watch all these films,” adds Anupama.

When asked whether as one who has all the ‘inside news’ she would one day like to write a ‘tell all’ book on Bollywood gossip, the critic laughs and says, “No, I don’t think I would be able to write such a book. That’s because I know everyone only at a professional level and I would be the last one to know or get any ‘gossip’ about anyone. After work I head straight to my home to be with my kids.”

As a critic of her husband’s works and whether they discuss his films, Anupama, says, “No, I don’t discuss films with him because of our ‘conflict of interest’.”

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