MUMBAI: As a journalist for eighteen years and now the editor of an entertainment weekly – Screen from the Indian Express Group, Priyanka Sinha Jha has met and interviewed many stars from the Bollywood industry, but it was a blog by the Bollywood stalwart Amitabh Bachchan that compelled her to think what goes behind the making of a star. Her book – Supertraits of Superstars published by Rupa Publications – that hit the book stores recently features 11 stars from the Bollywood industry, their journeys, their struggles and a lot more.
The germ of this idea, Priyanka says, was sown while reading one of Amitabh Bachchan’s blogs wherein he had quoted his father, poet Harivanshrai Bachchan saying, “Man ka ho to achcha, man ka naa ho to aur achcha”. “The thought led me to wonder how an iconic superstar like him, tided over the rough and tumble of life, and eventually it took shape in the book Supertraits of Superstars,” says Priyanka who is inspired by authors like Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Shobhaa De, Gerald Durell, Emma Bombeck among others.
While she started working on the book in 2012, the principal writing was done over a period of three months. “It took a while to arrive at the format of the book,” informs Priyanka. The book features the stories of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Vidya Balan, Karan Johar, John Abraham, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Priyanka has explored that one idea which differentiates these actors from the rest of the B-Town brigade and one of those defining traits that makes them stand out. It is not just the story, the book also suggests how a reader can benefit from knowing about the stars.
Talking about how she shortlisted the stars for the book, she says, “I selected 11 superstars who have displayed a certain defining supertrait in their lives so for instance, Mr Amitabh Bachchan for his impeccable discipline, Mr Shah Rukh Khan for the passion and enthusiasm which he brings to everything he does...and so on.”
Call it the advantages of being a journalist or sheer luck, Priyanka didn’t have to struggle much in finding a publisher. “Fortunately for me, Mr Kapish Mehra (owner, Rupa Publishers) and I were on the same page and he approved the idea almost immediately,” she says.
In fact, she got huge support from the publishers. “They gave me ample freedom and were open to most of my suggestions about the book,” she adds.
Priyanka’s husband, filmmaker-writer Piyush Jha also had a successful stint when he turned to writing from filmmaking with two back-to-back bestsellers – Mumbaistaan and Compassbox Killer. However, with utmost humility, in all his interviews, he has given the credit to his wife for turning him to writing. He has often mentioned that it was his wife who realised his potential to write and got him into it.
Quiz Priyanka about the support that she got while she was writing the book and she says, “Well, if it wasn't for Piyush’s support and guidance at every step, I probably would have never got down to writing it. He was instrumental in getting me out of my comfort zone and send a proposal to the publishers. I can never thank him enough for making this dream – of writing a book – come true!”
Interestingly, Piyush, who mastered the art of distribution of books during the release of his books, has even suggested interesting strategies for this one. “Distribution is actually an area that I know very little of, but Piyush, who acquired a detailed knowledge of it when his books often comes up with innovative suggestions on that front,” says Priyanka.
The book has already got a lot of prominence and a good start at various literature festivals like the World Book Fair in Delhi and the Patna Lit Fest. However, Priyanka thinks it is too early to comment on the response the book is getting. But those who have read the book have felt quite inspired. “With that being said, I would think the purpose of Supertraits of Superstars, has been well served,” she remarks.
An online edition of the book will soon follow. Though Priyanka confesses to still prefer reading books in the old-fashioned manner, she thinks that during travels e-books are a boon since they all fit in within your Ipad! And thus an e-book of her books isn’t a bad idea!
However, the book is available on all possible online sites. In fact the publishers have tied up with Flipkart and Infibeam in the online space and Crossword bookstores in the retail space, informs Ritu Vajpeyi Mohan from Rupa Publications. "The response has been fantastic. People have loved the book and the concept. We have received encouraging responses from a variety of readers," she adds, also informing that 7000 copies have been published in the first edition and it is being distrbuted all across from tier I to III towns.
The book is priced Rs 195.