I am a Star Plus sucker. Most of my love for the channel stems from their steady stream of K-series (much before the term stood for Korean dramas). But even before Ekta Kapoor cast her magic with her vastly popular and extremely over the top shows, Star Plus was known for some pretty good content and versatile actors.
Notable among them was Neena Gupta- who played a strong female lead in ‘Saans’ and an even stronger host in ‘Kamzor Kadi Kaun’. So when I got to know that she was writing an autobiography, I was immediately sold.
Thanks to birthdays, I was gifted a copy of the book ‘Sach Kahun Toh’ signed ‘Sa-sneh, Neena’ (With love, Neena). I was charmed by the simple address with her signature. Someone using the Devnagari script, writing a succinct message in Hindi for a book written in English, is not something I have seen often.
Right from her sign to the last page of acknowledgements, the book is a peek into the kind of person Neena Gupta is. It makes for a breezy read, reflecting the now-simple, no-frills life that she leads after having gone through a rather tumultuous time in her life. It’s a chronological account of a young girl who went from living in a humble home to embarking on a life journey that was rather adventurous.
The writing style is simple. The narrative is linear with a few jumps here and there. She writes a deeply personal account in a way that makes the reader empathize with her. Her account of Delhi and Bombay (now Mumbai) hit a familiar chord. She writes about issues like love-affairs, broken marriages, a child out of wedlock in a way that makes it feel human. I felt glad that she didn’t monetise the scandal surrounding her life to write a salacious account of things.
But I had one major grouse with the publishers. The book seems barely edited. There are glaring style flaws, like repetition of words, breaking chronology when avoidable, laborious paragraphs and missed opportunities for what could have been some really powerful lines and even grammatical errors.
It’s as if the first draft written by Neena Gupta was published without any change and as striking she might be as an actor, she isn’t an author by profession. She had a wonderful story to tell which could have been elevated with some diligent editing.
Someone should have put in the effort of tweaking the chapters in the book, like the five stories in the end about five characters in her life. That was a great differentiator, showcasing the potential of what the book could have been.
I would still give it a read despite its visible flaws for the comfort that I drew from Neena Gupta’s life story in this deeply personal memoir.
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