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This week I eagerly received a book from India I was waiting for. Sonia Golani's Decoding Bollywood holds 15 interviews with Indian film directors. I kept wondering what the interviews would be like and what I myself would have wanted to ask the same directors if I had been lucky enough to spend time with them.

Sonia Golani lives in Bombay and has written two books prior to Decoding Bollywood, focusing on the path followed by highly achieving people, such as female business leaders. Given this background, I was a bit apprehensive (though curious) about reading her account on creative people, who at the core are supposed to be different from finance-driven professionals. Which perspective would she use to showcase the inspired minds behind some of my favorite films?

The result is a set of 15 skillfully achieved interviews with the following film makers:

Anurag Basu
Ashutosh Gowariker
Farah Khan
Kabir Khan
Kunal Kohli
Mahesh Bhatt 
Nagesh Kukunoor
Nandita Das
Prakash Jha
R Balki
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Rohit Shetty
Sudhir Mishra
Vipul Shah
Zoya Akhtar

Golani shares her candid perception of each film maker's personality and provides a detailed account of her visit to them, as well as of their film making journey, interspersed with the film maker's own commentary. It is evident from the tone used in each of the interviews that Golani feels deep respect or is quite impressed with meeting each celebrity director, which may at times be a bit too politically correct for some readers' taste. However, she does capture compelling bits of information on the film makers' creative and personal journeys, which in my opinion are the best tidbits. 

I would have personally omitted questions regarding how newcomers can infiltrate Bollywood successfully, what directors think about awards or the Oscars and any talk about the 100 crore club. These questions might have been better fit within a magazine interview. On the other hand, if given the choice, I might have asked more questions about each film maker's directing style, about any foreign influences and possibly about how they conjugate their personal life with their creative urge. I would also have liked to know more about Sonia Golani's choice of film makers for her book and read more about how they see Bollywood evolving in the following 20 years for example.

Interesting topics are indeed discussed and some of the answers obtained from directors made me nod in agreement or might help allay some beliefs that audiences have about the Indian film industry. Some of these topics were for example how women are portrayed in Bollywood films, the film maker's perspective on Indian films or ethics within the film industry. 

Among all 15 interviews, I would like to point out a couple of gems that are definitely unmissable due to their content. One such is the interview with Nandita Das. The interview with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is also a welcome peep into a creative mind. Rohit Shetty gives also opens a rich and worthwhile door into the workings of cinema.

Decoding Bollywood is the next best thing to sitting down, sipping your favorite drink and having a chilled out chat with some of India's notorious film makers. We wish Sonia Golani had created several tomes that would include more of our favorites.
Purchase Decoding Bollywood from Amazon

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