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Looking for the Big B: Bollywood, Bachchan and Me [Paperback]

Jessica Hines
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Mar 2007
'Jessica,' he pronounced, 'you have known me for seven years. My life has changed seven times. You will never finish this book.' There is no reason why Amitabh Bachchan and I should appear in the same sentence. He is India's most legendary film star - a cross between Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Elvis, and with more than a hint of John Travolta. In a country like India where film stars are treated as gods, Amitabh Bachchan is the uber-god, the Big B. As for me, I am English, almost thirty, and not in the least bit famous. But here I am in Bombay about to start writing his story. How did I get here? Why did I get here? Bombay is mayhem and Bollywood maddening. "The Big B" is strangely aloof, the magazines are full of lies, and no one is talking. I want to write a book that explodes the myths surrounding India's most famous man. Can I pull it off? Funny, irreverent and affectionate, "The Big B" is a fascinating look at the Bombay film industry and the story of a very unlikely friendship.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition edition (5 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747560412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747560418
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,785,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'An assortment of autobiography, travelogue, social commentary and interviews ... held together beautifully by her bristling wit, charm and intelligence' Telegraph 'Funny, irreverent and affectionate ... a fascinating look at the Bombay film industry and the story of a very unlikely friendship' Asian Leader 'Her quirky observations on Mumbai and its social strata are brilliantly cutting and her use of "Hinglish" is genuinely funny' Metro 'Hines has an appealing voice - chatty, self-deprecating, and with an eye for humanising detail. She does finally come to an understanding about Bachchan, but her biggest achievement is in putting across her passion for Mumbai and its film industry. Someone buy this book for Jade Goody, quick' London Paper --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jessica Hines grew up on the Lizard in Cornwall and went to clown school in Toronto. She returned to study Comparative Religion at SOAS and do a MA in film at the BFI. She has achieved remarkably little in her thirty years having wasted most of her twenties inhaling pollution in Bombay. This is her first book.

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars laugh out loud 24 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, not only did it make me laugh out loud on numerous occasions but it really made me feel like I entered an unattainable world. It was great travelogue, history of Bollywood and emotional journey. I'd like to say that I was impressed that there was no navel gazing, faux spirituality, or exotic stereotyping that often accompanies western writers 'on India'. Jessica tells it how she lived it and i'd be inclined to believe that like Rekha, she was an Indian in a past life. I would reccomend this book to everyone.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud but start thinking too 6 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
This is a great introduction to the city of Mumbai, a great introduction to the notions underpinning the huge glossy enterprise of Bollywood and a great way to understand stardom in India as well.

Looking for the Big B; Bollywood, Bachchan and Me reminds me of all those fables about distance. You acquire perspective with distance. You see things that those who live closer to the subject don't. In India, we're used to seeing Mr Bachchan every time we turn around. And we've been missing the woods for the trees. Almost everything that has been written about him goes from the deadly serious to the laughably adulatory. Looking...is one of those rare books that can make you laugh out loud with its comic moments but can also start you thinking.

For instance, Hines suggests that part of the Bachchan charisma that has led a billion people in thrall is the sexuality he oozes although his onscreen persona was that of a violent hero. This conjoining of sex and death is not new -- pace Freud -- but it is the first time it has been applied to the phenomenon of Amitabh Bachchan.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for the Big B: Bollywood, Bachchan and Me 26 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book arrived within 24/36 hours of placing the order with Amazon super fast delivery. It arrived in perfect condition with neat packaging. The amazing price of the book is unbeatable!!
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Amazon.com: 1.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is an exercise in puffing up the author's ego. 13 May 2008
By Filmi Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Do not bother reading this unless you are interested in one person: Jessica Hines. She drops names like crazy but never gets to anything of interest. Ms. Hines seems to feel that the novelty of a white, blond woman looking at the "colorful" natives of India should be enough to keep us interested. It is not.

I would recommend "Amitabh: The Making of a Superstar" by Susmita Dasgupta as a superior volume looking at the life and career of Amitabh Bachchan.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really difficult to find anything worthwhile in the book 17 July 2009
By Abhinav Agarwal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you write a book about a big movie star, it seems reasonable on the part of the reader to expect to read something about the star himself, his life, and in his own words also. Despite the title of the book, 'Looking for the Big B...' you don't really expect to plod through 200 pages or so of mediocre, plodding prose, before you get to anything worthwhile. Even then the information is unoriginal, unilluminating, and nothing that has not already been written, over and over again.

It is really difficult to identify any positives from this book. There is the novelty of reading about the fascination that a young British girl has with Amitabh Bachchan, but that too fades after the first few pages. A lot of profanity seems a desperate attempt at appearing 'cool', and a description of the grime, pollution, poverty read too stale and cliched to elicit any interest.

We do get to know that the author has been to Mumbai (Bombay) innumerable times, that she has ingested enough lead, thanks to the pollution, to double her body weight, that beggars and filth infest the city, that she has been to the Al Burj Dubai, to the IIFA awards in Malaysia, has had many dinners with Amitabh, seen him sleeping next to him (on a plane), and knows a smattering of Hindi.

We also get to read about a lot of other stars, but their mention is only used as a prop to inform us that the author knows these stars - Manisha Koirala, Rani Mukherjee, Aamir Khan (whom it turns out she got to know more than closely), etc...

She writes about her travails in getting an interview with Rekha, but nothing beyond that. Or her interview with Shobha De, ex-editor of a gossip magazine 'Stardust', which only informs us that Ms De has nothing useful or interesting to say.

Perhaps the only insightful and touching nugget comes from her interview with Prakash Mehra, Bollywood director, who gave Amitabh his first big, commercially successful break with Zanjeer.

As a belated background, for those uninformed of Amitabh Bachchan, also referred as 'Big B' (and hence the title of the book) and the "Angry Young Man", he is the biggest superstar the Hindi movie industry has seen (though the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar too enjoy a huge fan following), and somewhat of a model for dozens of actors, stars, superstars, and star wannabes, that have followed him. The phenomenon of Amitabh Bachchan has also lasted very, very long, starting with his blockbusters in the 1970s (Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay, Kabhi Kabhie), continuing in the 1980s (Namak Halaal, Shakti, Laawaris), faltering in the 1990s (with hits like Agneepath, Hum, Khuda Gawah, and such duds as Lal Baadshah), and resurging in the millennium (Mohabbatein, Aankhen, Khakee, Sarkar).

Peruse these alternatives:
To be or not to be: Amitabh Bachchan
Sholay: The Making of a Classic
Bachchanalia The Films & Memorabilia of Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan: The Legend
1.0 out of 5 stars Trying too hard for the laughs 5 July 2010
By Uomo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a some-time fan of Bollywood I was pleased to find this book and eager to get some insights into Bachchan and the Bollywood film industry. It didn't take long at all to be put off however by the gushing teenage adoration and purple prose of the author (Bachchan is variously described as a "demigod", a "megastar", "The Living Legend of the Hindi Film" , a "perpetual star with the power to enthrall" etc etc and this is all in the first 10 or so pages). The attempts at humour just seem too forced and any real insight into Bollywood along with any interest from me had very soon dissipated. I have to confess that I gave up after less than 50 pages.
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