Can a film-star’s life be an open book? 

While I am greatly honoured to be spoken of in the same breath as Dilip Kumar and Waheeda Rehman [in this piece on star biographies], I feel that Gautam Chintamani either speed-read all three books or he scoured them for salacious bits and ended up disappointed. On the one hand he is sharp enough to cotton on to “things left unsaid” and on the other, he clearly wishes to be spoon-fed if he expects someone as propah as Dilip saab to be forthright about his past amours; or someone as reticent as Waheeda apa to spell out her exact feelings for Guru Dutt; or, while we’re at it, for me to talk about my (in his words) “cold war with Dilip Kumar”.

My book does not cover the time when I shot for Karma and in any case there was no cold war ‒ the legend and I hardly met ‒ it was all a concoction of some gossip writer’s imagination.

But I daresay that’s the kind of stuff that interests people like Chintamani who himself shouldn’t miss the delicious irony that he is unsatisfied with one book because Dilip saab chooses not to provide information on events that had an emotional impact on him and with mine because about similar events I provide more than he needs! My book was intended to be a memoir not a text-book on acting ‒ a subject on which, by the way, I do have a great deal to say but I doubted it would interest readers like him.-Naseeruddin Shah