Shatrughan Sinha has a special place in film-land. Even when he played a negative role, he had charm and dare I say, sympathy. He was the original enfant terrible of Hindi films. Now, of course, he is a seasoned politician whose booming voice and witty one-liners cause crowds to cheer loudly. Anything but Khamosh, an absolutely un-put-down-able book on the life and times of Shatrughan Sinha tells us many candid, less-known and insightful details about the first ever Indian film star to become a Cabinet Minister.
Coming from a family of academics and doctors where the four sons were named after the four brothers of the Ramayan, he swam against the tide from the beginning. For the veteran actor, studies were anathema. The defiantly different ‘Bihari Babu’ was born for the limelight. In the face of firm resistance from a disciplinarian father, Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Sinha, and with the indulgence of older brother Lakhan who initiated Shatrughan to the fantasy world of Hindi cinema, mother Shyama Devi’s chhutka bauwa (little one) set foot in the film industry without the then-in-demand good looks of the Kapoors or any connection with the Hindi film industry. In fact, the tall, lanky and dark scarface from Patna, whose diction had a Bhojpuri twang in his early years, went on to create history on celluloid.
Politics is just one part of the book which also deals with Sinha’s initial years in the Mumbai (then Bombay) film industry, how he first saw his now wife Poonam as a school girl on a train and fell for her immediately, and his liaison with Reena Roy.
The actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha expresses, rather candidly, his deep regret in contesting elections from Delhi in 1991 against Bollywood star Rajesh Khanna. “Under no circumstances should I have started my active political career with a bye-election. But I couldn’t say no to (LK) Advani Ji, who was my guide, guru and ultimate leader,” Sinha says in the book, Anything but Khamosh.
The man who stole khamosh from Prithviraj Kapoor (Mughal-e-Azam) and made it his own is, as the book announces, Anything but Khamosh on his life, its struggles, the quirkiness, the ironies and losses. Shatrughan is as frank in narrating his relationship with Reena Roy as he is candid about the misunderstandings and family squabbles with his siblings.
The book that was seven years in the making is a fascinating account of a rich and chequered life. The hurrahs and the heartaches are there in equal measure. Even Sinha is rather happy with the outcome and says “I knew from the outset, when we started seven years ago, that Bharathi and I would come out with a book that would set a benchmark for its honesty, objectivity and its potential as an inspiration for the young.”
Celebrity-studded, exciting, engrossing, dramatic and forthright, the book is not just one man’s soliloquy. It has comments, and observations about Shatrughan Sinha, the man and the star from colleagues as well as supposed adversaries. Right from Amitabh Bachchan to Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar and even Nawaz Sharif – everyone has something to say about Shatrughan Sinha and mostly, it is words of genuine admiration.
In one word, the book is like its subject – you will either love it or loathe it, but never once be able to ignore it.
Book title: Anything but Khamosh
Author: Bharathi S Pradhan
Publisher: Om Books International
Price: Rs 595
About the Author:
Bharathi S Pradhan is currently the editor of The Film Street Journal and a Sunday columnist for The Telegraph. She also has edited Star & Style, Lehren, Showtime, Savvy (Consulting Editor) and Movie, besides writing for a wide variety of publications, including Eve’s Weekly, Femina, The Free Press Journal, Mid-day and Reader’s Digest. She is currently working on a coffee-table book on the legendary filmmaker, BR Chopra.
Text by Aarti Kapur Singh
Images by Supriya Aggarwal