Roshmila Bhattacharya’s book Matinee Men is filled with RARE trivia about Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir Khan, John Abraham, Dev Anand etc

Roshmila Bhattacharya, who headed the entertainment section at Mumbai Mirror for 7 years, is now back with her second book, Matinee Man. Her first book, Bad Man, released in July 2019 and was a biography on Gulshan Grover and traced his journey in cinema. In Matinee Man, however, she attempts to go beneath the glam, glory and greasepaint, to find the men behind these demi-Gods we have been watching live out different characters in reel life.

Roshmila Bhattacharya has a career spanning three decades and has worked with all the leading media houses like The Times of India, The Indian Express, Zee and Hindustan Times. As part of her work, she has got multiple chances to interact with and interview several screen idols of Bollywood. In Matinee Man, she her focused on 13 actors – Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Farooq Sheikh, Mithun Chakraborty, John Abraham, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Irrfan Khan. Through the memories of moments spent with them, and conversations with family and colleagues, she brings us interesting trivia, like their unique talents that not many known about.

Some of the fascinating and never-before-known trivia that she covered in the book are as follows:
1. Ashok Kumar made more than three hundred painting and when M F Husain saw his horses, he told the actor that these were not the strokes of an amateur artist.

2. Dev Anand was mistaken for a real guide during the shooting of his American-Indian co-production, Guide, in Udaipur by a group of American tourists. And instead of getting affronted, the evergreen star simply whizzed off with them in a motor boat, returning to the shoot after giving them a guided tour

3. John Abraham, an economics graduate with a Masters in management, would get frustrated when people treated him like a “clothes hanger” during his modelling days even though he reads Frank Kafka and is very knowledgeable about world affairs. Even after he entered the movies, the focus was only on his looks, body and sexuality. But being a marketing guy, he decided to position himself this way, till he got the power to do the kind of films he wanted. He admits that the studio that distributed Vicky Donor were appalled that he was making a film during the shoot of which curious bystanders in Delhi would ask its director, Shoojit Sircar, “Yeh donor ka matlab kya hai?”  Today, John is not just an action hero in commercial blockbusters, from Dhoom to Satyameva Jayate, he has an impressive library of off-beat films like Kabul Express, Water, New York and No Smoking as an actor and Vicky Donor, Madras Café, Parmanu and Batla House as a producer.

4. Ashok Kumar loved dogs and had around twenty at various times. Interestingly, he named then after dictators like Stalin, Brutus, Chiang Kai-shek and Hitler!

5. A young boy while watching the Dilip Kumar film Shabnam told himself that when he became an actor, he would call himself Manoj after the film’s character. We know him as Manoj Kumar today.

6. The world knows him as ‘He-man’ whose dhai kilo ka haath can make the bad man disappear from the face of the earth on screen. But Dharmendra prefers the tag ‘Darling D’.

7. It was the last day of shooting of The Tashkent Files. During the tea break, Mithun Chakraborty called his director and told him, “There’s a question I’ve waited to ask. You took me for a reason, have I passed your test?” Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri couldn’t believe a 3-times National Award winner was asking him this!

8. Dadamoni as Ashok Kumar was fondly called refused to be the chief guest at his daughter, Bharti’s college function. Why? For that you have to read the book and you will know much more

There have been plenty of books on cinema. What makes Matinee Men different is that it’s intensely personal in its approach, anecdotal in its narrative and is all about many untold stories…  About men, movies and journeys.

An actor, they say, lives a hundred lives. He wakes up every morning, wears a different face and sets out to make the world his stage. This book tells you how he feels wearing these faces, and more importantly, without them. If you are a Bollywood buff and love your stars, it promises that you will get to know them better.


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