Book Review: Freeze Frame
By Anupama Chopra
Publisher: Om Books International
Released in: 2014
Rating: Four stars
Anupama Chopra is a respected film critic who never fails to hit the bull’s eye in her appreciation of films and analysis of cinema, the Hindi film industry, releases, and festivals. The best thing about Anupama is that she doesn’t shoot in the dark like many critics do since she comes with a baggage and background of ‘Lights! Camera! Action! I always believe that to be an honest critic of cinema, you must have a deep understanding of what goes behind the scene, be it cinematography, script, screenplay, and shots taken of actors.
Chopra’s book, ‘Freeze Frame’ is a compilation of interviews, right from Amitabh Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Govinda, Aishwarya Rai, Javed Akhtar and Hollywood biggies like Manoj Night Shyamalan, Baz Luhrmann, Rusell Crow, Ralph Fiennes and Leonardo Di Caprio. The book also contains several columns of the journalists that have been reproduced in the book which is an eye-opener on the business of cinema and beyond. Freeze Frame is a book that every student of cinema must read.
The interviews conducted as part of Anupama Chopra’s ‘Picture This’ show at NDTV where she spoke at length to Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan & Kiran Rao, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Farah Khan, Resul Pookutty and Shabana Azmi. Some of the interviews are insightful, candid and closely guarded at the same time but what flows is an insight in the business of film-making and acting. Mr. Bachchan spoke of his dream role Gabbar Singh which he always wanted to do and how we went along with RGV ki Aag. More power to him on following his heart, irrespective of the film being a washout and how his second inning gave him a certain amount of cinematic liberty to take risks as well as the fact how he follows the director’s instruction like a keen student. I love Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao interview where they shared on the making of Dhobi Ghat and how the latter never wanted
I love Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao interview who shared on the making of Dhobi Ghat and how the latter never wanted Mr. Perfectionist in the movie. Kiran Rao is insightful and comes out lively during the interview while Aamir confesses how he didn’t believe in the movie. I feel it’s quite tough for a husband and wife to collaborate on the project and it’s tricky to draw the lines at home, behaving like husband and wife. I feel that Kiran Rao should direct more since she has an authentic and aesthetic vision of filmmaking, life’s observatory and shooting her ideas in every frame to make art believable. Shah Rukh Khan is very insightful on what makes him sell and is honest to the core on show business. There are no boring moments with him. The trio of Karan Johar, Vikramaditya Motwane, and Habib Faisal on crossover cinema and how small, meaningful cinema are set to be the game changer. It’s an education a pleasure to read the wise and priceless words of Javed Akhtar along with Farhan and Zoya. Shabana Azmi, Dimple Kapadia, Govinda, Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’ words on his vision of cinema are priceless. Sanjay Sir did a show in Paris, Padmavati and it couldn’t come at a better time to read for a film with the same name is coming with Deepika and Ranveer in the lead. He speaks unabashedly on his penchant for extravaganza.
The best part of the interviews is when someone like Baz Luhrmann speaks on critics of Hindi cinema which many describes as ludicrous. The Hollywood filmmaker is honest in his take, “Not every Bollywood film is perfect and some people say, ‘Oh, it’s so ridiculous. I say, yes, like Shakespeare is ridiculous. Like human beings are ridiculous. Ridiculous are not meaning idiotic. Ridiculous meaning, not necessary a reflection of idealism.”
I love the words of Baz Luhrmann who has the best answer to critics who points at how our movies don’t make sense. For me, it’s entertainment at its best, designed to bring laugh on faces. Tom Hanks has the best answer on stardom and playing larger-than-life persona, “Well, I’ve been larger than life…Apollo 13, was about flying to the moon. Robert Langdon character….I ran around all the capitals of Europe and tried to solve mysteries that had lasted for 3,000 years…your task at hand is to capture reality..you have decided to make a movie about the guy, in some ways it is larger than life even though it is just a life…Lary riding a scooter instead of a riding a car is a unique moment.”
I love Anil Kapoor’s take when he was asked whether he was upset when many touted him to dethrone Mr Bachchan but never happened. “I didn’t really take that seriously. Every decade, I have given blockbusters in every genre. What else do you want? People should admire your work and your honesty and integrity and value system and that is what I believe in. I am from Chembur Anu (Anupama Chopra). I used to live in a one-room with a common bathroom…so that there is then in my blood, the way I connect with the masses. But I have tried my best to connect with the so-called intellectual and intelligent people also.” I love Anil Sir’s take on success and films.
As I mentioned, Freeze Frame is a must-read for all students of cinema through the varied interviews and Anupama Chopra’s insightful columns on what makes us missing at Cannes or the various film festivals. However, what I feel missing is the lack of materials of what goes behind the scenes, stars ego to a certain extent and the whole crap between meaningful, entertaining and art ventures. I do have an issue with critics labeling one movie as mass-oriented and the other as art house. I believe that either you make a good or bad movie and would love to know Chopra’s take on this whole thing.
Freeze Frame is a must read, particularly, Anupama Chopra’s columns such as Good Ol’ Hands speaking on the late Dev Saab (Dev Anand), Clint Eastwood or Manoel Oliveira who followed their passion despite their age and not bothered with churning hits or misses. Like Woody Allen at 75 delivered his biggest hit Midnight in Paris. A creatively charged and artistically inclined person with a passion in the belly for movies never slow down or retire. Columns such as The Celestial Status of Our Stars, My Undying Love Affair-being a movie buff who breathe cinema, I relate to that easily, The Comeback Girls-on Madhuri, Aishwarya and Sridevi, Bollywood Rockstar and An Easy Escape are must reads in the book.