Home » Reviews » Book Review: Rakesh Anand Bakshi’s Directors’ Diaries Volume 2 is a good follow-up to the first book in the series

After the success of ‘Directors’ Diaries – The Road To Their First Film’, author Rakesh Anand Bakshi recently came out with the second volume in the series. Just like the first book in the series, ‘Directors’ Diaries 2’ features prominent filmmakers from different ends of the spectrum (you have a Shyam Benegal and a Prabhu Dheva in the same book). These books give one a glimpse into the conversations Bakshi had with the filmmakers while trying to understand how their association with cinema came around, the things which influenced them as filmmakers and the different kind of experiences they have gone through while making films which have been consumed by a large number of people across the globe.

These conversations are long, elaborate and intimate and by the time you finish reading the excerpts of a particular conversation the author has had with a filmmaker, you get a fair idea of the sensibilities which the filmmaker has imbibed and the ideologies s/he adheres to. You also get to know how they see and perceive the various elements/techniques used in a film like sound, camerawork, editing etc. If you have not even seen a single film made by a particular director featured in the book and are completely oblivious to their body of work, chances are that once you finish reading the book, you will feel a strong urge to start discovering their cinema right away! At the beginning of every chapter, the author has listed the filmography of the particular filmmaker whom he has interviewed in that segment. After that, there is the ‘sneak peek’ section followed by ‘my take’ in which the author shares his impression of the filmmaker. These small, little sections which pop up before the interview do a good job at familiarising the readers with the interviewee.

Each interview serves as a roadmap to the filmmaker’s journey into films. The questionnaire seems to be designed keeping both film enthusiasts and aspiring filmmakers in mind. One understands the author’s intention of writing a series of books which give readers a glimpse into a filmmaker’s journey right from the time she/he was in their childhood/early teens and discovered a love for cinema. That is the reason why one comes across questions like ‘were you a voracious reader in your early years?’, ‘who was the cinematographer of your first film?’ et al. It is understandable that the author seeks to give readers an idea how a filmmaker assembles his team together and the way each member of the team contributes towards the filmmaking process. For instance, when Nandita Das is asked ‘How did you select the editor? What was the process of working with him?’, she gives a wonderful insight about how Sreekar Prasad, one of the most renowned editors in the country works. Similarly, Shyam Benegal, too, shares interesting anecdotes about how he found a producer for his first film ‘Ankur’.  Having said that, the interviews would have been a little more interesting had the author dug deeper and spoke to the interviewees about some interesting incidents which occurred in their journey as filmmakers and asked them to elaborate on the same. In his interview with Prabhu Deva, the author asks him, ‘What was your father’s profession? Did it influence your career choice?’. One would have expected the author to know, before-hand, that Prabhu Deva’s father was the legendary choreographer Mugur Sundar and could have discussed some lesser known aspects of his father’s career and how it impacted Deva.

There are interviews of eight filmmakers and the ones that I loved the most were that of Abhishek Chaubey and Tanuja Chandra. In his interview, among other amusing anecdotes, Abhishek shares an interesting incident about how he managed to watch ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke’ in a far-flung theatre while he was studying in a boarding school on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The things which he encountered, during his initial days in the Hindi film industry, make for a compelling read too. I have not read many of Tanuja Chandra’s interviews despite doing a brief interview with her once. Through her interview, I discovered that she is deeply passionate about cinema.  Kabir Khan’s interview was quite interesting but having seen and read many of his interviews, there was not much which I gained out of it. 

This book is 229 pages long. The first book in the series had 276 pages; this one is slightly thinner but is as engaging and informative as the first one. What makes it a little more special is that there are interviews of several unsung heroes of the Hindi film industry in this one. Apart from the eight filmmaker, Rakesh has interviewed spot boy Salim Shaikh (Action), make-up designer Vikram Gaikwad and audiographer & sound designer Rakesh Ranjan. These interviews are equally compelling and give the readers an idea about several aspects of filmmaking they would not have a deep understanding of.

After two vastly engaging books, one now waits for the third part in the series to arrive!