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A neat encapsulation of an amazing career.

The unlikely rise to fame of one of India’s biggest movie stars, contextualized by the evolution of the Bollywood film industry.

After digesting Chopra’s (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, 2003, etc.) book, few readers will be in doubt that Shah Rukh Khan chose the correct line of work. Khan’s life story is full of all the drama, tragedy and seemingly insurmountable hurdles that populate his movies, and Chopra infuses the pivotal moments of his life with an edge-of-your-seat tension worthy of the best Bollywood blockbusters. Khan began as a disciple of perhaps the most famous of all Bollywood stars, the ruggedly good-looking Amitabh Bachchan. But compared to Bachchan, Khan was a reckless, disheveled rogue whose career choices and lifestyle marked him as a rank outsider. As Chopra chronicles Khan’s improbable rise—first in television, then in film and finally as a jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur—she occasionally dips into wider developments in Indian culture. The Americanization of India is given ample coverage, and Chopra writes at length on how marketing, and branding (one chapter is titled “Brand SRK”), took a stranglehold on both Bollywood and society as a whole. She also looks at how the mob put increasing pressure on Indian businesses through extortion rackets and murder in the late 1990s, eventually infecting Bollywood through the presence of notorious mobster Abu Salem, who practically forced Khan into hiding. This signified the beginning of a bleak period for the actor, as it coincided with various failings in his businesses and in his on-screen career—and the events provide a real cinematic twist, allowing Chopra to muse on her fallen hero’s dark days, which are, of course, tempered by an inevitably triumphant comeback with the movie Devdas. Chopra offers a solid entry-level introduction to both Bollywood and one of its biggest stars. The only flaw is the lack of detailed interview material with its primary subject, but this is nicely counterbalanced by the author’s musings on wider developments in Bollywood.

A neat encapsulation of an amazing career.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-446-57858-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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