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Slice-of-life tales

Film stars are often perceived as larger-than-life personalities. While onscreen they regale us with their acting prowess, off screen, they often make news thanks to their alleged link-ups. But little is known about them apart from what they let us in. Veteran journalist and filmmaker Khalid Mohamed attempts to give us a peak into their true stories in his forthcoming book titled Faction, which derives its name from the words fact and fiction. It’s an anthology of short stories by 22 film personalities including the late Ashok Kumar, Ashutosh Gowariker, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Deepika Padukone, Farah Khan, Karan Johar, Sonam Kapoor and Shekhar Kapoor, based on their real-life experiences.

So while yesteryear chocolate boy Rishi Kapoor gives an honest account of how he wooed his first girlfriend through a telegram, angry man Nana Patekar narrates why he became an actor to get back at his father who would often terrorise him as a kid. Mohamed says that he got the idea for the book after interviewing Akshay Kumar. “Once he had told me how while travelling in trains, he saw love blossom between a couple but it led to separation. That story left an indelible impact on my mind.” But due to prior commitments, the critic couldn’t work on it immediately. It was later when he was assisting a friend, who was penning a book on stories from showbiz that he thought of collating real-life accounts of personalities. “I asked directors and actors who are articulate and willing to share their experiences as a short story. I discovered a story by Ashok Kumar that he couldn’t complete after his demise. He intended to make a film on it. I contacted his daughter and sought her permission to complete it and include it in the anthology,” he elaborates.

But apparently there were a few of them who didn’t allow him to touch a word of their script. Mohamed says, “Basu Chatterjee and Sai Paranjpe’s tales had a solid, classical short story structure. Sai was so particular that she didn’t even want a comma to be changed.”

Initially though the scribe had thought of restricting the stories to only 12 personalities, he admits it became so addictive that he extended it to 22. Also a couple of stories didn’t work out. “One actor wanted a subheading after every three paras while another actor’s story had all the making of a larger book. So I didn’t include them in Faction,” he explains.

After being a journalist for three decades, Mohamed has seen and interacted with actors at close quarters. But he confesses that the book has helped him see them in a new light. “We often end up glorifying artistes. This book gave me an insight into their lesser-known facets. Akshay’s account was sensitive; Arjun’s experience was vivid, honest and humourous. Sonam, who is perceived as a fashion icon, has told a story that borders on chick lit but makes for interesting reading. Working on Faction was a tough but creative experience,” he concludes.

Faction
Khalid Mohammad
Published by Om Books
Price: R395 

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