Book Review: Picture Abhi Baaki Hai

Picture ABHTo be frank I did not understand why Picture Abhi Baaki Hai is a book at all. It put me off at the outset with a lengthy, vapid prologue justifying its existence as a book – a prologue in which the author keeps bringing up the name of the book twice on every page. For example, Picture Abhi Baaki Hai is a collection of…”, Picture Abhi Baaki Hai looks at…”, “The reason Picture Abhi Baaki Hai…”. I am not quoting the book verbatim but you get the drift. Reading the prologue made me wonder if Dwyer was trying to justify the book’s existence to herself.

Dwyer’s Picture Abhi Baaki Hai reads like a PhD thesis. When I picked up the book, I expected Dwyer to lead me down memory lane with anecdotes – stories behind the stories that enthralled us. Rather, Dwyer is content in writing about the minutiae of how Bollywood reflects Indian culture – which if the book is meant to be read by Indians is astonishingly weird. Also, irritatingly, Dwyer explores everything with such deep academic sincerity that the text becomes rapidly vapid, even though it has infinite potential. Sample this – “The morality of the source of the anger is not in dispute but the action that Vijay pursues in the cause of his personal morality, may be questionable and is usually contrasted with that of a second hero, a brother or a friend, who follows the public morality of the law.” I have no clue why this should interest anyone but a movie theorist/ PhD aspirant.

The only saving grace for Picture Abhi Baaki Hai is the fact that it has these moments where the book speaks of our favourite films and has pictures of our favourite scenes from these films. Otherwise, Picture Abhi Baaki Hai is a book that simply deserves to gather dust in a derelict library. I have no clue why Hachette decided to mass market publish it. It has hardly anything for the lay reader in India. Maybe it can be sold abroad to Westerners trying to understand Bollywood’s linkages with Indian culture.

I am going with a generous 1 out of 5 stars. I genuinely feel sorry that such promising material was wasted so. Also, perhaps the book is not intended for Indian audiences at all. An additional .5 for the cover and the catchy title.

Title: Picture Abhi Baaki Hai: Bollywood as a Guide to Modern India
Author: Rachel Dwyer
Publisher/ Imprint: Hachette India
Pages: 294
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Non-fiction/ Essays
Rating: 1.50 of 5
Reviewed for: Publisher

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