More than 100 years ago when cinema still had to evolve, it was no mean task to get the
audience accustomed to the phenomena of moving images. It is said that there wee strange
reactions amongst the audience when the first film was screened. While many rushed out of
the theatre on the sight of a train approaching a platform, in some other parts of the
world, the audience suspected that the theatre was haunted by evil spirits.
Understandably, filmmaking in olden days was not an easy task and people from
respectable families refrained from the world of make-believe.
In the late seventies when I became a film journalist, nobody remotely intelligent
wanted to be associated with film journalism. The mainstream media considered it below their
dignity to feature private lives of celebrities, and the glossies who did so were described
The discrimination continued all through the eighties. Then sometime in the
nineties, one still doesn't know why but it became mandatory for leading newspapers to
devote a full colour feature to the dream merchants. Initially devised as a respite from the
regular serious stories, the readers slowly got hooked on to the trivia involving show
Come 2000 and entertainment had consumed the common man. From stray features on news
glaze pages on weekends, it had invaded the front-page headlines. Suddenly, the average
reader was familiar with not just the superstars but also the business of entertainment. As
the budgets of mega movies got bigger and merchandising became the new mantra, writing on
cinema transformed into a serious profession.
In the millennium there is a newfound respect for the film critic.
O more is the film critic treated like a pariah or his brand of writing termed
'yellow'. Now he has new epithets like 'trade analyst' and 'historian' added to his by-line
and film buffs pause on their remotes to listen to his expert comments on TV channels.
Interestingly, even those not directly involved with film trade are well acquainted with
jargons like box-office collection and world right distribution. At cocktail circuits
everyone has an opinion on everything connected to movies, be it reviews, international film
festivals or panel discussions.
The splendour of cinema is all around and it is no longer possible to escape its
connecting media. Unlike 100 years ago when nobody respectable wanted to be a part of the
film world, today, everybody, everywhere is obsessed with movies, Hindi films in
Unknown artistes, nouveau writers and self-taught technicians with no film
background or experience have crowded the market and are being encouraged by corporate
houses. In present times, the cinegoer is akin to a critic and invests his hard-earned money
in collecting expensive film memorabilia. The change is everywhere. More and more University
students both abroad and in our country are opting for Hindi cinema as a subject for their
Fragmented Frames is an effort to applaud that shift in attitude. The book is a
collection of heartfelt essays on varied aspects of cinema ranging from mythology, theatre,
television, superstition, children, marriage and mental-health to premier culture,
literature, sex scandals, legendary controversies and more. There are intimate chronicles of
love and heartbreaks of prominent personalities and also thought-provoking features on
personal and social tragedies like the fire eruption on the sets of Black and bomb blast at
Plaza Theatre in Mumbai.
The book elaborates on film festivals like IFFI, Osians, MAMI, Cannes and holds a
mirror to superstars and government bodies when they falter. Besides Hindi films, there are
glimpses of success stories down South and the new emerging multiplex culture. At time
subjective, at times reflecting on larger issues, the book is a documentation of dramatic
times, a salute to the fascinating medium of moving images. It is an effort to record the
changing times and shift in attitudes of dream merchants.
From the Jacket
Most books delving on the genesis and growth of cinema all over the world and more so in
India somehow end up becoming a boring account of detailed events, which though informative
are often exhaustive and worse, make a tedious read.
Fragmented Frames is the complete opposite. The book is a collection of enchanting
and introspective essays on the madness and magic of show business. It travels you through
varied subjects and phases of the dream world.
It is a compassionate comment on what we see on the big screen and in many instances
what goes on behind the scenes. It is about Hindi cinema no doubt. But it is also about the
author, Bhawana Somaaya, her insight and observations about the creative people and the
medium. The myths and the legends, the romances and the overwhelming anxieties
It is a rare
and a compassionate book on the love of cinema, which is original and also
I wasn't able to put it down until I finished it. Nor will you!
Bhawana Somaaya began her career in journalism in the late 70s while studying for her BA
degree in Psychology. Commencing with Free Press Journal's Cinema Journal as chief reporter,
she moved to Super as a special correspondent while completing LLB at the Government Law
College, Mumbai. In '81 she joined Movie as an assistant editor and was promoted in '85 as
its joint editor. In '89 Chitralekha asked her to launch their first English publication and
in 2000 she joined as editor Screen a film weekly of the Indian Express group.
She is the recipient of several prestigious awards and has contributed columns to
Sunday Observer, Afternoon, Janmabhoomi, Pravasi, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Pioneer
and Newstime. She has written six books.
Amitabh Bachchan The Legend, Salaam Bollywood, Take-25, the Story So Far, Cinema:
Images and Issues, and Hema Malini The Authorised Biography.
Fragmented Frames is Bhawana's seventh book with two more in the pipeline.
Back of the Book
The different article on a variety of topics are a reflection of the many colours, trends,
sections and seasons of show business
Fearless and compassionate the author takes a stand on many relevant issues related
to the film fraternity.
Full of insights the book is a must buy for the thinking film buff.
From the advent of moving images more than 100 years ago to the multiple genres and
mega projects of today, Indian cinema has really come a long way. The audience that earlier
discarded this medium as a 'world of make-believe' is now akin to critics whose verdict
determines the success of a film. Even writing on cinema, once referred to as 'yellow
journalism' confined to the glossies, has transformed into a serious and respectable
profession. What's more, it has even infiltrated into the front-page territory!
Fragmented Frames is a celebration of this change in perspective, as recorded by an
eminent film critics, who has seen cinema developing and achieving greater heights over the
three long decades. The book offers her reflections on various aspects ranging from
mythology, theatre, television, superstition to literature, scandals, controversies and
more. It provides a glimpse of this dream world, and at the same time, discusses certain
'real' issues associated with it.
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