Did you know that filmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar auditioned for folk dances during his college days and Salman Khan's father and Farah Khan's mother were the lead pair in a 1963 film?
These and several other tidbits related to Hindi films and their makers find mention in a new book titled 'Decoding Bollywood: Stories of 15 Film Directors' by Sonia Golani.
"I went for these auditions more as a bystander with a group of students, but when I got selected, I felt that I did something right. Even though I bagged small roles, those moments on stage were very significant to me," the 'Lagaan' director tells the author.
The book is an account of Golani's interactions with some of Bollywood's most prominent directors.
"Considering the timelines, logistics and the framework of the book, 15 directors have been covered in this edition who have undoubtedly made significant contribution to Indian cinema," she says.
The stories, according to her, are not meant to offer a critique of the directors' films and she only attempts to delve into their professional and personal journeys on order to unravel and decode some aspects of the Hindi film industry.
The book, published by Westland, also says that Anurag Basu had to first dance as a background extra and later overcome cancer to witness 'Barfi' win hearts and awards. Some directors like Farah Khan and Zoya Akhtar had sterling antecedents but it took a tough childhood and intermittent assignments on film sets to win the box office with films like 'Om Shanti Om' and 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' respectively.
Keen to join the world of films, Anurag Basu started looking for a break and managed to get small roles for which he was paid as low as Rs 500 per day. "During the filming of a dance sequence, with the hero in a paddy field, I asked one of the background dancers how much he got paid and was told that he made 800 bucks. I made friends with him and started looking for dancing roles which drew better remuneration," he says.
The other directors featured in the book are Kabir Khan, Kunal Kohli, Mahesh Bhatt, Nagesh Kukunoor, Nandita Das, Prakash Jha, R Balki, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Rohit Shetty, Sudhir Mishra and Vipul Shah.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra worked as a salesman and was in the garment exports business before turning to filmmaking. On completing his graduation, Mehra started off with Eureka Forbes in their sales team. Within a few months he broke the national sales record and paradoxically lost interest in sales, the book says.
Next, he set up a garment exports business in partnership with a friend from Shri Ram College of Commerce and grew it rapidly to a few hundred machines and artisans, operating out of a couple of factories. Then he ventured into the advertising world and ultimately into filmmaking.
Family and friends of Kukunoor remember him for his extraordinary story telling abilities which would magically unfold during the sweltering summers of Hyderabad when they would huddle indoors to escape the cruel sun. Kukunoor would either narrate stories of films that he had seen or would spontaneously concoct something for his audience.
At high school reunions, he would often be reminded by his classmates about the way he would stand at the head of the class and not only narrate the stories of 'Don' and 'Sholay' but also enact scenes from these cult movies, the book says.