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Authors: Shashi Tharoor

Show Business

BOOK: Show Business
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Praise for
Show Business

A New York Times Book Review
Notable Book of the Year

“One of the four best works of fiction of the year … a witty, ironic novel … splendid … immensely entertaining.”

—Jonathan Yardley,
Washington Post Book World

“A wacky, satirical tale of hits and misses in the worlds of politics and cinema … engagingly presented by Shashi Tharoor. Through a montage of shooting scripts, narratives and monologues, he invents a fictional world that is a metaphor for deeper concerns.”


“Exuberant and clever … what makes
Show Business
particularly impressive is its elaborate structure.”

New York Times Book Review

“A rollicking, first-rate novel.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Tharoor's sharp-tongued second novel [provides] … [a] scathing portrait of the Bombay film industry.”

Village Voice

Show Business,
Shashi Tharoor successfully captures the corrupt milieu of contemporary India … satirizing it mercilessly…. Shashi Tharoor is a deft narrator who cleverly weaves his story, interspersing it with film gossip columns and Hindi film songs….
Show Business
is not just an entertaining novel. It portrays the social, political and cultural realities of India [with] insight.”

Earth Summit Times

“A splendid satirical view of India.”

Reader's Catalog

“A writer of top class talent.”

India Today

“A multi-layered work which can be read on many levels. While many readers may read it just as an entertaining story, there are deeper meanings embedded in this satirical work about India's social and political reality.”

India West

“Tharoor is one of those rare writers who felicitously combines gentle satire with an urgent concern for society's ills. Another eloquent—and entertaining—commentary on contemporary India.”

Kirkus Reviews

“An effervescent and thoroughly fascinating rendition of the human comedy.”


“An immensely clever, wickedly satirical novel … [told] with
tremendous verve. A satire of Swiftian aspirations about the grand illusion of story and history.”

Toronto Globe & Mail

“Tharoor undoubtedly has some of Molière's comic gift; he also has a profound understanding of human falsity and the incongruities that constitute life….
Show Business
has in it the genesis of The Great Indian Movie.”

Toronto Star

“A witty, ironic novel in which Indian film—and India itself—is seen from any number of revealing angles … A splendid novel.”

International Herald Tribune

“With zest and narrative gusto,…Tharoor subjects [Hindi films] to a series of virtuoso parodies which are at once faithful, witty and affectionate…. Tharoor has succeeded in pulling off a considerable literary coup—by writing an enormously funny and enjoyable novel which has never for a moment been frivolous.”

—Jonathan Coe,
Sunday Times,

“Tharoor has a terrific ear…. His wit is peppery and alert…. This highly colored, entertaining, faintly monstrous book takes its risks with panache and triumphs spectacularly”

Independent on Sunday

“One of the finest writers of satirical novels currently operating in English.”

Independent on Sunday,
London (profile)

“A fast, fresh and funny read.”


“Tharoor obviously knows Bollywood and its zany habits well. Much of what he writes is funny…. But with all its comic aspects,
Show Business
is a serious book…. Tharoor achieves just the right combination of cynicism and sorrow; moreover, he leaves the reader with something to think about, a notable accomplishment in itself.”

Far Eastern Economic Review,
Hong Kong

Show Business
is Shashi Tharoor's witty connection between the world of filmmaking and of politics: success in either, he says, involves the finding of effective ways of duping the masses. Except the Bollywood business also makes them laugh.”













Shashi Tharoor






Arcade Publishing • New York

Copyright © 1991, 1992, 2011 by Shashi Tharoor

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Arcade Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018.

Arcade Publishing books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Arcade Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 or
[email protected]

Arcade Publishing® is a registered trademark of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.®, a Delaware corporation.

Visit our website at

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available on file.

ISBN: 978-1-61145-223-5

Printed in the United States of America

For my sisters
Shobha and Smita
in fulfillment of a twenty-year-old promise
to take them to the movies



Interior: Day

Exterior: Day—

Monologue: Night


Interior: Day

Exterior: Day/Night—
(The Bond)

Monologue: Night
Kulbhushan Banjara


Interior: Night

Exterior: Day—
Dil Ek Qila
(The Heart Is a Fortress)
The First Treatment: The Original Version

Extracts from “Cheetah's Chatter,'

Exterior: Night—
Dil Ek Qila
(The Heart Is a Fortress)
The Second Treatment: The Revised Version

Monologue: Day
Mehnaz Elahi


Interior: Day

Exterior: Day—

Monologue: Night
Ashwin Banjara


Interior: Night

Exterior: Night—

Monologues: Night/Day
Pranay, Kulbhushan, Ashwin, Maya


Interior: Night/Day




Interior: Day

I can't believe I'm doing this.

Me, Ashok Banjara, product of the finest public school in independent India, secretary of the Shakespeare Society at St. Francis' College, no less, not to mention son of the Minister of State for Minor Textiles, chasing an aging actress around a papier-mâché tree in an artificial drizzle, lip-synching to the tinny inanities of an aspiring (and highly aspirating) playback-singer. But it
me, it's my mouth that's moving in soundless ardor, it's my feet that are scudding treeward in faithful obeisance to the unlikely choreography of the dance director. Move, step, turn, as sari-clad Abha, yesterday's heartthrob, old enough to be my mother and just about beginning to show it, nimbly evades my practiced lunge and runs, famous bust outthrust, to the temporary shelter of an improbably leafy branch. I follow, head tilted back, arms outstretched, pretending to sing:

I shall always chase you
To the ends of the earth,
I want to embrace you
From Pahelgaon to Perth,
My love!

My arms encircle her, but, as my fingertips meet, she ducks, dancing, and slips out of my clutches, pirouetting gaily away. Drenched chiffon clings to the pointed cones of her blouse, but she raises one end of the soaked sari
to half cover her face, holding the edge across the bridge of her perfect nose in practiced coyness. Her large eyes imprison me, then blink in release. Despite myself, I marvel. She has done this for twenty years; it is my first attempt.

shall always chase you
From now ‘til my rebirth
And it's only when I face you
That I feel I know my worth,
My love!

I shall always chase you,
I'll never feel the dearth|
Of my desire to lace you
Around my —

“Cut!” I am caught in midgesture, midmovement, midword. The playback track screeches to a stop. I freeze, feeling as foolish as I imagine I must look. Abha snaps her irritation, turns away.

“No, no, no!” The dance director is waddling furiously toward me. He is fat and dark, but nothing if not expressive: his hands are trembling, his kohl-lined eyes are trembling, the layers and folds of flesh on his bare torso are trembling. “How many times I am telling you! Like this!” Hands, feet, and trunk describe arabesques of motion. “Not this!” He does a passable imitation of a stiff-necked paraplegic having a seizure. The technicians laugh. I smile nervously, looking furtively at my costar. Abha stands apart from us, hands on hips in a posture of fury. But am I imagining it, or is there something softer around her eyes as she looks at me?

I open hapless hands to the dance director, palms facing him in a gesture of concession. “OK, OK, Masterji. Sorry.”

“Sorry? Is
good name you will be ruining. What all is this, they will be saying. Gopi Master has forgotten what is dance.” His pectorals quiver in indignation. “For you maybe doesn't matter. You are
I am having fifteen years in this business. What they will say about me, hanh?”

I shrug my embarrassment. I thought I'd done what I had been told to do, but that doesn't seem the right thing to say. Gopi Master stamps his feet, one oily ringlet of black hair falling over a flashing red eye. He tosses his curls and strides off.

“OK, OK.” This is the director, Mohanlal. Mohanlal looks like a lower divisional clerk. He wears a fraying white cotton shirt, black trousers, thick glasses, and a perpetually harassed expression. Right now it is even more harassed than usual. I am evolving a Mohanlal Scale of High Anxiety, ranging from the pained visage with which he embarks on any second take (one on the scale) to the extreme angst that furrows his face when the producer-sahib visits and wants to know why the film isn't finished yet (ten). My terpsichorean incompetence has him up to about five, but he is teetering on the edge of six. I try to look earnest and willing.

BOOK: Show Business
13.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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