People with Books in Hindi Cinema

Happy World Book Day!

For a bibliophile like me, this is a very special day, because it celebrates books. I can’t imagine life without books (I read an average of about 80-90 books every year, and would probably read double that number if I didn’t watch films or Korean dramas). I love reading, I thrive on reading, I get restless if I don’t have something to read.

So, in celebration of books, a post on people with books in Hindi cinema. More specifically, about ten scenes in Hindi cinema where a character is shown with a book.

Hindi cinema is not devoid of a connection with books. Lots of films have been based on books, both homegrown and foreign works; lots of protagonists in films have been shown to be novelists or poets. And, though most fashionable, bouffant-topped or suit-clad heroines and heroes are shown leafing through magazines (invariably Life) there is the occasional appearance, onscreen, of a book. Some are real books by real-life authors: books you and I could read. Some are books specifically designed for the film—mostly in cases where an important character is a writer, and one of his/her works is shown.

Some books are props. Some are more.

Without further ado, then, the ten scenes. All, as usual, are from pre-70s Hindi films that I’ve seen. The one criterion I’ve imposed on myself other than this is that the book should be an actual work, not a fictitious publication written by a character in the film (or conveniently placed in the film as a prop to further a theme—which is why books like Daera and Anupama, in the films of the same names, don’t count). It should be a book you and I could possibly read.

1. Waheeda Rehman with Meghdoot (Khamoshi, 1969): This was the first book that came to my mind, because that frame—Waheeda Rehman, clutching it to her chest, standing beside a mesh door, her eyes swimming with tears—is so iconic. In such an iconic song. This is a woman who was going off, bearing a favourite book to be gifted to the man she loves (and who, she is convinced, loves her too). And then, a chance encounter, and all her dreams lie shattered. She walks on towards him, listening to his song, the book still in her hands.

2. Sharmila Tagore with When Eight Bells Toll (Aradhana, 1969): Another Rajesh Khanna film, also from 1969—but very different from Khamoshi. The book here too couldn’t be more different from Meghdoot: Alistair MacLean’s spy-and-detective thriller, When Eight Bells Toll, is a far cry from the classic poetry of Kalidas. The circumstances are very different too: Sharmila Tagore’s Vandana is a bubbly, carefree girl—just the sort who would want to read something light and fast-paced on a train journey.

3. Sharmila Tagore with 6 Great Modern Short Novels (Waqt,1965): Sharmila Tagore again, and in a scene where the book is used (and misused, with her flipping its pages about with gay abandon, treating it with a disdain I find shocking)—as a prop, nothing else. There’s no clue which six novels those are, but this edition (which was first published in 1954 and includes James Joyce’s The Dead,  Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Gogol’s The Overcoat and William Faulkner’s The Bear) might be it.

4. Nanda with Lolita (Jab Jab Phool Khile, 1965): Nanda’s hip, foreign-educated miss in Jab Jab Phool Khile comes with an appropriate prop: a novel that’s bold, controversial, a novel not for a time-pass reader but for a bibliophile of some standing. Not, certainly, the sort of person one would expect to fall in love with an illiterate houseboat wallah.

5. Waheeda Rehman with Murder Murder Murder (Baazi, 1968): This one’s not a prop meant to show the character of the character (though it probably does, to some extent—Waheeda’s a smart modern girl, so her reading murder mysteries isn’t surprising). Rather, in a film that’s centred around a murder followed by some very odd revelations, it’s a neat little way of adding to the tone of the film.

Murder, Murder, Murder, by the way, is a collection of ten short stories, by authors that include John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, Robert Arthur and Lillian de la Torre.

6. Tanuja with Bachelor’s Joke Book (Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi, 1966): The bubbly and irrepressible Tanuja first appears in Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi lying on the carpet and reading Bachelor’s Joke Book and giggling. Giggling in a genuine, laughter-bubbling-up-from-deep-within way. In fact, the book hides her face for a good part of the scene, and even when she turns away to attend to a telephone call, reluctantly having to put her book aside, we don’t see her face until she bursts out crying at the news she receives: that the exam results have been declared. A fun girl, a bit of a clown, and definitely the sort to be reading a joke book.

(Interestingly, later in the film, Tanuja’s co-star, Dharmendra, gets into a lift while reading a book—something by Rabindranath Tagore, though the title isn’t visible—and is so engrossed in the book that he doesn’t notice, for a while, that there’s a fellow passenger as well).

7. Leela Chitnis with Brahmacharya (Suhaagan, 1964): A book by Mahatma Gandhi about his thoughts on celibacy (and his experiments with it?) is bang on in a film about a man whose marriage cannot be consummated and who is forced to be celibate. In this scene, two people read the book by turn (and it’s implied that a third has already read it). Guru Dutt’s character discovers Brahmacharya in his wife’s (Mala Sinha’s character’s) table drawer. He reads it, and is discovered by his mother, played by Leela Chitnis. Egged on by her distressed son (who now realizes just what his wife is going through), she is the one who actually reads out aloud an excerpt from the book.

(Incidentally, I haven’t been able to find an exact copy of this book, at least not among the search results online. It seems to be an extract—possibly from chapter 61—from My Experiments with Truth; since Gandhi’s writings were so widely published, in different forms, this doesn’t seem like something put together just for the sake of the film).

8. Dharmendra with Othello and Tanuja with The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin (Izzat, 1968): This is a particularly satisfying scene and my favourite one on this list, simply because there are two people with two different books, and they’re in a library (a home library, which looks fairly well-populated, too). Dharmendra’s character, come to this house for the first time, is introduced to Tanuja’s character, who holds a book as she leads him into the library. He asks her which book she’s reading, and she says it’s Elwin’s The Tribal World. Ah, so you like sociology, he remarks; and she’s quick to say that she likes novels and drama too. He, by then looking at some of the other books in the library, comes across a copy of Othello, and they begin to discuss it.

So heartwarming to a book lover’s soul, that a romance should begin in a library, between two book lovers, over a discussion about a literary character.

9. Dev Anand with Kamayani (Kaala Bazaar, 1960): And before him, Vijay Anand. Vijay Anand’s character, sitting in a garden with his girlfriend (Waheeda Rehman) is reading Jaishankar Prasad’s Kamayani and his girl is gradually getting more and more miffed at his ignoring her—so, in a fit of playful annoyance, she grabs the book and throws it over the hedge, where it falls on the head of another man (Dev Anand) who’s lounging about on the lawn. Kamayani piques his interest, and once he’s begun reading it, it encourages him to read further, to acquire a library of his own from the ill-gotten gains of his life of black marketing.

So yes, a book that does lead to other books: it plays, therefore, an important part in the film. A very important part.

10. Sunil Dutt with Sansaar Shastra (Padosan, 1968): And, to end the list, another book that plays an important part in a film. Sunil Dutt’s Bhola in Padosan models his life on the principles set forth in Sansaar Shastra, a work on how to live in the world—in essence, a book expounding on the virtues of adhering strictly to the four ashrams set forth in ancient classical texts. Bhola, being the lakeer ka fakeer that he is, takes Sansaar Shastra to be gospel truth and goes about with it for a good bit of time before realizing that there are better ways of spending time than reading an outdated book like this.

I admit I haven’t been able to find a copy of this book anywhere online, but that’s possibly because this is an old book and maybe just not available any more. But it’s definitely a book the contents of which you should be able to find easily enough in similar works on traditional Indian philosophy.

Happy reading!


97 thoughts on “People with Books in Hindi Cinema

  1. Lovely post, Madhu!

    It is a special day indeed… Happy World Book Day to you too…. Waheeda Rehman and Sharmila Tagore (Aradhana) were the first scenes that came to my mind. I have not seen Izzat but the scene you describe sounds lovely (and am very fond of Dharmendra and Tanuja…so will check it out).

    Happy reading…… and a confession, may sound slightly strange but I have taken the day off today to do just that. :-)

    • Thank you, Harini! And, I think yours is a great way of celebrating World Heritage Day. :-)

      It’s been a long, long time since I watched Izzat, so I remember only the very bare outlines of the plot. I should watch it again some day. I believe that was Jayalalitha’s sole Hindi film. Dharmendra in a double role, a lovely Tanuja, and Balraj Sahni in an unusual role.

  2. two movies come to mind… both outside your time frame.
    1. Angoor. Ashok (Sanjeev Kumar) is shown reading a detective novel when he travels to the place where the other Ashok resides. don’t remeber the title.
    2.Johnny Gaddar here too in one scene Neel nitin Mukesh reads a book by J H Chase ( No orchids for miss blandish not sure of the title) Reema Sen is shown reading Guide by R K Narayan in another scene.
    Is there nobody out there reading Plum in the tinsel world…. ? Will give a quid or two to a person who is able to make such a connect

    • Thank you for those additions to the list! While researching this post, I came across tons of books from newer Hindi cinema – it seems there’s a lot more reading going on onscreen now than there was back then.

      It would be lovely if one stumbled across a character reading Plum, no? I would think the greatest possibility would be in films directed by film makers who were self-confessed PG Wodehose fans, like Nasir Husain. I would gladly add my quid to yours!

  3. As a book lover, I loved your observations and this collection of books being read in films ! I guess Kajol is shown reading a book ( upside down) in DDLJ and SRK is reading a book in Baazigar which is what leads to the song Kitabein Bahut Si Padhi Hongi Tumne :)

  4. Being a great book lover (alongside a great movie buff), I can connect to this post and can recall many more such instances in Hindi movies. Great post indeed. Let me correct you regarding the storyline of Baazi (1968) as mentioned by you at the entry no. 5. Baazi (1968) is a mystery but not about some murder followed by an inexplicable reappearance of the corpse or the ghost of the murdered one. Perhaps you are confusing it with Kab Kyun Aur Kahan (1970). The hero is Dharmendra in both these movies but the heroine of Kab Kyun Aur Kahan (facing the reappearance of the corpse or the supposed ghost of the so-called murder victim) is Babita.

    • Thank you! – For the appreciation, and for pointing out that mistake. Yes, I was confusing Baazi with Kab, Kyon aur Kahaan. Have corrected it now. Thanks again!

  5. 80-90 books a year?? RESPECT!

    And here I am, well-known among friends and acquaintances alike as a habitual reader, yet someone who takes over four months to finish a paltry TWO Charles Dickens novels :(

    Ironically, aside from these two classics, I did finish a couple of Elmore Leonard quickies and a few short story collections by Clive Barker, too… but I need to read more classic literature, dammit! *hangs head in shame*

    “When Eight Bells Toll”, btw, is fast-paced but hardly light reading. A lot of it involves Maclean’s native Scottish countryside and he often gets lost in describing such extremely minute details that the already labyrinthine plot comes to a standstill. Add to that lack of characters to root for (unlike in The Guns of Navarone, Night without End or Where Eagles Dare) and it becomes quite a confusing and taxing experience. It was to me, anyway.

    The Othello connection to Izzat seems interestingly apt, considering Dharmendra’s dark skin. Of course, as a home-grown substitute they could also have given him some noted Dalit literature work to hold… Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable, perhaps?

    • “80-90 books a year?? RESPECT!

      :-) 35 already this year, so I’m hoping to do better. I guess it comes from reading in any spare time I get – and not doing very much else for relaxation. I do watch films and Korean drama, but not incessantly. Days go by without either.

      Ah, I hadn’t realized When Eight Bells Toll wasn’t light (or, well, relatively light – I was thinking vis-a-vis literary heayweights like Lolita or Othello). I’ll admit my love for McLean stems largely from Where Eagles Dare, and to some extent, HMS Ulysses, which, while not exactly ‘light’, is a splendid book. Loved that one.

      “Of course, as a home-grown substitute they could also have given him some noted Dalit literature work to hold… Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable, perhaps?

      I guess so. Except that the story of Othello is possibly more widely known, even among Indian audiences. And since the two characters go on to discuss the nuances of Othello’s and Desdemona’s relationship, it helps to use a book more people would know about.

      • MacLean’s novels generally throw the heroes/main characters into extremely exhausting physical endeavours and in that regard, Night without End has no equal in its visceral power.

        As for your topic, the only instance of a character reading an actual novel that comes to mind right now is Sonam Kapoor (who is an avid bibliophile in real life) reading Erich Segal’s Love Story in I Hate Love Stories.

  6. A Happy Book Day to you too, dear Madhu!

    The first two scenes, which came into my mind were Waheeda Rehman mit Meghdoot and Sharmila TAgore with the Alistair MacLean’s novel. You have covered them both.

    Maybe Rajendra Kumar is shown reading Bertran Russell in Aman?

    I am impressed by the research you’ve done for other examples, partiuclarly the books, which were collection of short novels. That must have been difficult. Bhola’s ‘Sansar Shastra’ sounds to me to be an invention of the story-writer.

    Thanks for the well-written article.

    • Thank you, Harvey! Glad you liked this post.

      “Maybe Rajendra Kumar is shown reading Bertran Russell in Aman?

      That might be a possibility, considering the man himself appeared in the film too. Will check.

      Sansaar Shaastra – okay. I thought it was a real book, considering it did expound on a topic that is fairly common. But you may be right,

        • I did skip hurriedly through Sujata (I was basically looking at movies in which Sunil Dutt played writers or teachers – there are several of them – thinking that those were likely movies in which to see him with books). But I missed this scene. Thank you for telling me about it!

          • It is a blink and you’ll miss it scene, so it is quite understandable and after all it is ‘just’ an encyclopedia.
            There was a phase in my life, where I would randomly pick a volume of Collier’s Encyclopedia and read an article from it before going to sleep. :D

            • ” after all it is ‘just’ an encyclopedia.

              In my opinion (and from what you wrote in the next line, possibly yours too!), an encyclopedia is not ‘just’ something. I am a nut for learning, so I actually do like encyclopedias a lot. :-D Have never used one for bedtime reading, but have often used books of a similar bent – non-fiction, more informative than anything else – to read before sleeping.

              • More than anything, the awe for the encyclopedia is simply great. Just to know that so much knowledge is in these pages makes me feel wonderful holding an encyclopedia in the hand or for that matter being in a library. Sometimes, when I have to visit our Institute’s (of Botany) library to consult some tome late in the evening, and I am alone walking between the shelves and then I think here, in the volumes, there is knowledge of centuries, collected by men and women from different countries, from different backgrounds on such diverse topics and here they are all standing next to each other so peacefully, just waiting to be of service. That makes me feel humble in a wonderful sort of way.
                Maybe there are enough Hindi film songs filmed in a library or a book shop to make a list. I remember the Pyaasa song jaane woh kaise log. Are there any others? Since the library is a place to be silent, I doubt if there would be more. But there are sure to be some songs, where one can see many books in the background.
                That takes my thoughts tangentially to other place, where there is lotss of paper, the office. Reminds of at least two funny songs, filmed in the ambience of an office, jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji and la ra lappa. Maybe that is is enough starting material for a list.
                Sorry for my rambling and thank you for the the space to do it.

                • @Harvey :
                  You sound like you have an upcoming :
                  1) PhD Dissertation due OR
                  2) PhD Dissertation Defense due OR
                  3) New Academic Paper due OR
                  4) Job Interview

                • Thank you, Harvey! That is such a well-thought out, enthusiastic and sweet answer! Lovely tribute to encyclopedias. :-)

                  Is Jaane woh kaise log thhe jinko‘s setting really a library, or just part of a well-filled-with-books drawing room? (Though of course the latter would also qualify as a home library, I suppose. After all, my library at home is like that – in my drawing room). Here’s a song I remember as being picturised in a library – an institutional one, too. Rooth na jaana tumse kahoon toh, from 1942: A Love Story:

                  I like the idea of songs picturised in an office! (I can’t think of any other than the ones you’ve mentioned, though. Let’s see what I can come up with).

                  Sorry for my rambling and thank you for the the space to do it.

                  You’re more than welcome, Harvey! It gladdens my heart when somebody engages with my posts the way you do. :-)

      • In Dillagi (1978), Dharmendra lends Hema Malini Kalidas’ Meghdootam, Shakuntala and Kumara Sambhava. He is a Sanskrit Professor and woos Hema Malini through Kalidas’ works.

        • Ah! I forgot that, though I’ve seen the film. :-) I think there’s a strong likelihood that Sharafat (in which too Dharmendra plays a teacher) might have him with a book or two.

          • Though Dharmendra became more famous for his action-roles, he played many intellectual roles, like in Anupama, Dillagi, Sharafat and Co. And I should say, I preferred him in such roles rather than ‘kutte-kaminey’ ones.

            • Same here! I really like Dharmendra in his quieter roles. I remember reading an interview with him in which he mentioned how, after he’d put in so much effort for films like Anupama and Satyakam and still didn’t get an award for either of them, he decided there wasn’t any point really investing in acting, and so went all out with those kutte-kaminey roles. I also do like him in some of the funnier, more light-hearted films that he made during the late 60s (and, of course, later, the hilarious Chupke-Chupke).

  7. I’m thrilled with the subject, though my reading has fallen through the cracks this past couple of years. And of course, Sharmila with the Alistair MacLean was the first subject that came to mind. The other was, of course, that scene in Junglee from which you have posted a screenshot. (Of course, reading your title on my sidebar made me wonder what the post was about – people who wrote about Hindi cinema? People who’d had biographies or memoirs about them? So intriguing! :) )

    In Lal Patthar Raj Kumar is shown reading a book on Fatehpur Sikri. (He’s said to be fascinated by history.) Later, in the same film, Hema is shown reading a book (can’t see the name, though) – both scenes serve to underline the characters and are not mere props.

    I’m sure there are other scenes – I seem to remember one with Ashok Kumar and quite a few scenes with Amitabh. Just can’t pin them down.

    • “Of course, reading your title on my sidebar made me wonder what the post was about – people who wrote about Hindi cinema? People who’d had biographies or memoirs about them? So intriguing! :) )

      And those, actually, could be posts all on their own! People who wrote about Hindi cinema, of course, would possibly be a never-ending list. The same with people whose biographies or memoirs have been published.

      Thank you for the Laal Patthar reference – I saw that film in my very long-ago childhood, so have forgotten it completely.

      Ashok Kumar in a dressing gown with a book in hand is something I’ve certainly seen in more than one film. Which, now, I cannot remember. Amitabh Bachchan, too, as you mention (what comes to mind most is him poring over the botany textbook in Chupke-Chupke).

  8. A Happy Books Day! Have not been reading as much as I used to or would like to, but will correct that soon. Some scenes that come to mind – though not sure if they make the cut – would be from Kora Kagaz (1974) with Jaya singing Roothe Roothe piya and Goldie Anand reading and of course Jaya again in Chupke Chupke (1975) Chupke chupke chal ri purvaiya with a book on botany.

    • Thank you! Jaya Bhaduri with the botany book in hand was one I’d been thinking of, though of course since it’s out of the scope of this blog’s time line I couldn’t include it. I haven’t seen Kora Kaagaz – thanks for that.

  9. What did you do?

    Now I will have to not only watch these movies but get the books also.

    In 10th standard, Sanskrit class, we read passages from Meghdoot and couple other Kalidas stories. In we had excellent teachers in my k-12 schools who loved the subjects they taught.

    Keep writing

    • :-) Your comment made me so happy! Thank you.

      I somehow never read any part of Meghdoot, though we did read other stuff by Kalidas. Unfortunately, I had very few good teachers in school – those who loved their subjects and were good at teaching them could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

  10. Very interesting post indeed,
    You are really great to choose this as a theme for a post on the blog. That was really nice.
    As I told you, I was a bit busy and couldn’t read the post as regularly as I used to in past.
    I’m also a book worm and can’t live without books.
    Now a days I don’t get time to read much.
    One book with 350 pages takes about a month for me to complete. Such a horrible thing really.
    I used to finish such books much earlier.
    I feel so bad, that I can’t come out with any scene to add to the post.
    May be tomorrow.

    • Thank you! Glad you liked the post. :-)

      I hear you about taking a month to complete a 350-page book. When I was working in the corporate sector, I was in pretty much the same situation: I just didn’t have the time to do anything except work. Much as I wanted to read, it was very difficult to find time to do so.

    • Thank you, Banno! :-) It’s been ages since I watched Izzat, so can’t vouch for it – I remember nothing except the core plot. If I remember correctly, Greta had given it a thumbs down in a review some years back.

  11. Always pride myself on being a book lover but your 80 to 90 books a year sounds incredible. That’s, a book every 4-5 days! Amazing!!! Gives me a huge inferiority complex.

    • :-D Thank you! I suppose I’m addicted to books – I cannot sit around and not read. I have even been known to read while doing things like waiting for one side of a pancake to cook, or waiting at the bus stop for my daughter to come home.

  12. I remembered the scene from DDLJ, in the train, when Kajol reads a book and Sharukh constantly disturbs her. These are such poetic images you have shared. Never really noticed books in Hindi cinema …

    Seema @ Lonely Canopy II Artist, Writer, Wanderer, and Dreamer.
    Lonely Canopy

    • Thank you! Someone else mentioned the DDLJ scene too; I remember it.

      Hindi cinema actually has a fair number of books featured (and I’ve not even listed technical books, law books, textbooks, and books which I’ve not been able to identify from their covers). I’m happy about that. We need more readers around.

  13. I remember reading somewhere, that in some Hindi film a dacoit is shown reading a book on Marxism. In Mujhe Jeene Do, Jis Desh Me Ganga Behti Hai and Gunga Jamuna, the dacoits are illiterate, so I doubt that these films were referred to.

    • Hmm. I wonder which one that would be… would have to be a dacoit with a heart of gold (or a hammer and sickle in place of a heart?), besides being educated, of course. ;-)

      • Hammer and sickle in the heart would do just fine, I think. ;)
        Maybe it was some movie, where an educated or at least a literate person takes to arms against the society.

        • “where an educated or at least a literate person takes to arms against the society.

          Yes. There was a 1970s one where Vinod Khanna and Dharmendra (I think?) were brothers, and VK turned dacoit after their father was brutally killed. I’ve forgotten which one it was, but it also starred Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini.

          • The movie is Vijay Anand directed “Rajput”.

            BTW — In “Jewel Thief”, the 1st sentence Tanuja speaks to Vyjayanthimala is
            “Aap Ke Haath Mein Meri Kitaab Hai”. V is shown leafing through a dark blue / black bound book, but we cannot see the name.

            ***SPOLIER AHEAD****
            Vijay Anand’s villains in both Jewel Thief & Teesri Manzil were clearly very well educated (at least Ashok Kumar must have been, Premnath was very rich & cultured), but they probably did not take up arms against society in the sense prevalent in this thread.

            • Thank you for identifying that film!

              And… I’d forgotten about that scene in Jewel Thief. I agree about Ashok Kumar’s and Premnath’s characters in the films you mention, but yes, not at all likely to be the sort to read books of that nature!

  14. Madhu,
    This is a very innovative post, nicely presented. Congratulations. With your 80-90 books a year, I am quite embarrassed to claim that I also love reading.

    I agree with Harvey that Sansar Shastra is perhaps not a real book. My recollection of Padosan is slightly different. Sunil Dutt does not foresake the lessons of the book for better ways of spending time. The book teaches him that after the age of 25, one should enter ‘Grihasth ashram’. Since he is already 26, he realises he has overstayed as a ‘brahmachari’ for a year, and decides now he has to pursue Saira Bano.

    • Thanks, AK. Glad you liked the post, and glad to have found a fellow book-lover!

      Thanks for that clarification about Sunil Dutt’s character vis-a-vis the lessons of the book. Obviously, it’s been far longer since I watched Padosan than I thought it was!

  15. Any idea, which book Rajesh Khanna holds in his hands in kahin door jab (Anand, 1970). I can’t read the Arabic script, but am sure someone can decipher it and the lines (2:32) may indicate, which book it is.

    • I tried to see the title of the book minutely and it seems to me that the title of the book is ‘ Rumi ‘ written in Urdu script. It’s probably a collection of Rumi’s poetry.

      • Wow, that is incredibly nice of you! Thank you.
        I simply love Rumi’s lines.
        There is such a depth of knowledge and such an ancient truth in his words. Now I like this song more than before.

      • Since you answered my first question, now I’m becoming greedy and wondering if you can catch the title of the book Mala Sinha is reading in this song from Mere Huzoor. Glimpses of it can be caught at 0: 31 and 1:24. Thank you.

          • Sorry sir/ madam ! Despite trying hard, I couldn’t ‘ decode ‘ the title of the book although I feel that a person with sharper eyes and basic knowledge of Urdu/ Persian script may still succeed !

        • A Syrian friend of mine said it could mean Aish Gul, he said Ash Kul, but we decided in Persian or Urdu it would be pronounced as Aish Gul. I have no idea if it is the title of the book or the author. Jeetendra plays a poet in the film, maybe it is his pen name.

          • Thank you, Harvey! (and thank you to your friend). I do remember Jeetendra being a poet in this film, but his pen name is ‘Akhtar’, so that doesn’t fit… maybe it’s a collection of poems by some completely different poet.

            • At last the mystery is solved. A Persian friend of mine read it for me and we googled it and even found the book. It turns out that it is a real book, Aatish-e-Gul by Jigar Moradabadi. It seems he even recieved Sahitya Akademi Award Award in 1958 for this work. At the link below one can even read it, provided one can read Urdu. And then one may even understand it. ;).

              If I am not mistaken, a ghazal of his was even set to music for Junoon (1978).

              • I am impressed at your perseverance! Thank you, Harvey, and to your friend, too. This is so interesting. I do wish my Urdu was good enough to enable me to read this.

      • Thank you for that! I saw Harvey’s comment last night and thought I’d watch the song this morning (not that I had much hope – I can only very painstakingly spell my way through Urdu, and then never with anything more reliable than guesswork). Happy to see an answer before I even needed to try my hand at what was very likely to be a failure.

  16. hello,

    Last time I claimed that I will be a regular here. But I got delayed in submitting any reply and I am not to blame for that.
    You see, this post was unique and enjoyable, however I had to go through it more than twice. Firstly, I got stuck in the beginning two lines of your post which have been referred to by practically everyone above. And for other everyone commenting here seems to have had their fair share of books and you know I had to get all the courage to admit that my reading capabilities are limited, really limited.
    And whatever little there are get exhausted reading companies act, amendments, notifications and the rest.
    But now, now I have got to get inspired to read.
    Hope your he next one is simpler.

      • Wow,
        Nice article.
        All very good reasons. Since I have to read everything concerning my profession and remember it, I presume my memory will be strong . As it is I read only for the second reason, to relive stress, therefore only light mysteries and children magazines like Chandamama work for me. Its not that I haven’t tried some heavy readings like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged or The Prize by Irving Wallace, but I skipped pages to get to the end.
        Guess will give them a serious try….probably…in future…near or distant….If for nothing else for the last reason in that article- to live longer, and it somewhere points that reading helps reduce wrinkles :-

        • I don’t think ‘heavy reading’ was the point of that – just reading of any books. While I do read a lot of what is (presumably) ‘high literature’, I also read a lot of humour (PG Wodehouse is a favourite of mine, along with Georgette Heyer) as are mysteries (lots and lots of writers).

    • Oh, yes.

      By the way, your posting of Rukh se zara naqaab uthaao reminded me of a scene in Pooja ke Phool, where Mala Sinha’s character reads Shakespeare. The bard’s portrait is prominent enough on the cover of the book to identify it as one of his, but I wasn’t able to figure out which work it was.

      • Yes, that’s indeed a book with Shakespeare’s likeness on it, but not title was to be seen.
        In the song, mere aankhon se she is reading his diary and the privacy flies through the window. :D

        • In Main Bhi Ladki Hoon, there are many books to be seen, a side character is reading a book with the title Dil Mujhe Bata De while his flame is reading Aap Ka Pyar. In another scene Dharmendra reads a non-fiction with the title Hamari Chitrakala, which he asks his wife (Meena Kumari) to read out for him.
          I doubt though, if any of these books were real, except maybe the latter one.

          • I should have remembered those, since I’ve seen the film (and not too long back, either). Actually, now that I think of it, another Dharmendra film which is likely to have some books appearing in it is Anpadh

        • Yup, couldn’t see a title there. I kept pausing to see if it was possible to figure out a title, but no. If there had been one there, it would have definitely featured on this list!

  17. Excellent post, really innovative & appreciated it.
    As always, the comments make reading this a great joy.

    Coming to more examples, I am almost sure there are more Alistair MacLean novels shown in Hindi films, such as “Ice Station Zebra”; but cannot place them.
    I am trying to find some, and shall post when I do find.

    The book “The Caves” written by Rosie’s husband Marco in “Guide” should probably count, but does not fit you rules of “has-to-be-a-real-book”.
    Trust Hindi films to portray an author as at least the bad-person, if not the villain :)

    • Thank you, Samir! Glad you liked this post. And yes, if you do find more MacLean novels in Hindi cinema, do give me a holler. :-) Would be interesting to know.

      The Caves, like Anupama and Daera, wouldn’t fit, yes. But Marco, I think, is one of the rarer instances of a not-nice person being an author. Otherwise, there are authors and poets aplenty who are heroes in films like Anand, Anupama, Anamika, Sujata, Chhaya, etc.

  18. Wow! This is an incredibly creative topic! Researching alone must have been quite time consuming. Great work!

    Came back from a vacation and there’s a lot to catch up everywhere. Will be back soon.

    • Thanks so much, Ashish!

      “Researching alone must have been quite time consuming.

      Oddly enough, no. :-) Because I discovered it was World Book Day just three days before the day itself. And I was determined to do a post – so I raced through all the films I remembered as likely candidates. Some (Khamoshi, Izzat, Aradhana, Padosan, Baazi) I already knew. Others were lucky finds.

      • That’s really impressive! Screen scrapping to those specific moments is a tedious task as well. Interestingly no books with Premchand or Shakespeare made it (for this post) though plenty of movies were based on the two iconic writers.

        • Shakespeare’s there, actually – Othello, in Izzat. In Pooja ke Phool, Mala Sinha is shown reading Shakespeare as well (his portrait is clearly visible on the cover of the book), but the title is too small and blurred for me to figure out which work it was.

          But Premchand, yes – I would have thought he would definitely have been easy to find. Or Ghalib, perhaps, in Muslim socials, at least?

  19. I usually only read…don’t comment here. But recently your threats to shut down this blog for want of readers/commenters has prompted me to write as often as possible (which, I admit, is not very often). But this one features books!!! As a self-respecting book lover, I had to write in.
    This was a fantastic post…very creative and effort-intensive. So much fun to read. Though I must say I wasn’t impressed too much with Ms Tagore “reading” in Aaradhana. It was just a prop…she barely read as she preened and giggled and acted coy at RK.
    I’d seen Khamoshi as a kid, but your phrase “a chance encounter, and her dreams lie shattered made me go to YouTube and check out that sequence. What a lovely one!!
    For that and other details…other posts…thank you!
    (And I’ll never stop saying this: Bring back MJ!)

    • Thank you so much! For the comment, and for your appreciation of the post. Glad you enjoyed it.

      As for the ‘threats’ about shutting down this blog, as well as bringing MJ back… they’re related in a way, because the desire to stop blogging and the stopping of the MJ books stems from a similar experience: disappointment, and a feeling that one isn’t achieving anything. In an article I wrote last year, I explained that in the ten years since I published the first MJ book, less than 6,000 copies (in all – of all books in the series, in both paperback as well as digital copies) have sold. I get a measly 8% royalty of the MRP, so you can work out for yourself how much money I’ve made off those books. They’re just not worth it, especially when compared to the huge amount of effort that goes into plotting and writing them.

      It’s true that I love to write and that I’d go on writing even if just for myself, but the hard truth is that I need to earn as well. This blog is a labour of love, but after ten years of slogging away at it, if I barely get any interaction – in other words, if I don’t even know whether anybody’s reading – what’s the point?

      • Really saddened to hear that. Angry, even…because your writing is SO GOOD. It has everything I like – sensible characters, a broad-minded and non-misogynistic depiction of central characters even at that period of time (showing that feminism, or just good old common sense in men and women is not a ‘modern’ concept), meticulous detailing – so much so that it seems as if I’m watching the story unfold on a screen, a gripping mystery and anything else that goes into making it a terrific reading experience. Compared to the “Best-selling” trash that some “authors” churn out….This is not fair.
        Please let us know how we can help. I have bought your books for myself, as gifts for others. I can recommend to my library.
        Have you tried digital marketing? That might help.
        Please feel free to use my comments as feedback on your works wherever you want. I’d be glad to review more if that helps.
        I’d hate for a good author to be so disheartened that she stops writing. It will be a huge loss for us readers.

        • Thank you so much. That thoughtful comment, in itself, is enough to keep me writing a little longer!

          Yes, I’ve tried digital marketing, but the fact of the matter is that that works only as long as the author concerned also goes hell-for-leather promoting his/her books. And I am too shy to do that. I cringe at the thought of bullying people to buy my books.

          “Please let us know how we can help. I have bought your books for myself, as gifts for others. I can recommend to my library.

          That is so very sweet and supportive of you! Thank you so very much. Recommending to a library would be lovely. And yes, in case you haven’t already done so, please rate and/or review the books on Goodreads or Amazon. With an increasingly large number of people buying books online, online recommendations do help.

          Thank you, again – you’ve really encouraged me a lot. :-)

          • “I cringe at the thought of bullying people to buy my books.” I can totally understand that, because I’m shy that way too; i’d make a terrible salesperson. Having said that, when people with a decimal percentage of your writing talent can shamelessly hawk their books everywhere, you should counter it. You know…prevent dilution of quality.
            I will write reviews.. I don’t think I have. Thanks for the suggestion.
            Good luck.

            • I know! :-( But the fact is, it’s so difficult to change one’s basic personality, no? I have started being a little more assertive (for instance, a few years back I wouldn’t even have told any reader who said they liked my books to please post a review, but now I do that often. Perhaps someday I will have the guts to go about pushing my books more aggressively.

              Or just bask in the happy knowledge that there are people like you who do like my books. Thank you so much.

  20. Hi, Madhu, This was a lovely post, and one close to my heart since I have always been an avid book-reader, in fact an inveterate Bookworm since my early childhood. My first school, St George’s Grammar School, in Hyderabad had a well stocked library and I used to borrow heavily from it. There were mainly children’s classics there. Then I went to Bhopal where I studied in Cambridge School, which had an even vaster library. While going through all of Enid Blyton’s books, Anthony Buckeridge’s “Jennings” series, Bible stories, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott etc I went on to read Wuthering Heights ( incidentally Sadhana’s favourite book), What Katy did, Heidi , Kon Tiki , Masterman Ready and so many others. I read my first Agatha Christie “Sparkling Cyanide” at the age of eight, when I was in Class Six ! I remember asking my aunt, who was the Principal of Cambride Sch. what “vicious” meant . She exclaimed, “You’re reading a STORY book ” and spanked me !! The best part was that the British Council Library in London used to send a huge carton of 200 wonderful books, mostly children’s fiction, every 2 months and I used to sneak into my aunt’s office and secrete a book, hide it under my class book and devour it !
    Those days we used to go to New Delhi for our summer hols, where my father was posted. There in Shankar Market near the Super Bazar, just off Connaught Place, there was a wonderful second hand book shop where a benign ,stout, elderly man presided. I used to either buy or rent tons of books from it, and quite often lift a few to hide under my shirt ,away from the eyes of the Shop Owner. When I went back to Bhopal the Shop Owner casually asked my father where his fat, little son was ” Who used to steal my books” ! My Dad was mortified and offered to pay up. But the kindly gentleman refused to take any money saying that your child adores books so let him have them. Bless his soul. Let me tell you that I hate philosophy and love pulp fiction….the pulpier the better ! Though I have read Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Arthur Hailey, Harold Robbins,Robert Ludlum, Leon Uris, and historical fiction like, “Forever Amber” . Those were huge heavy tomes, and like you I average 80 to 90 books a year. .
    Now about your post , I re-saw “Aap ki Kasam” in which Rajesh Khanna is seen reading Harold Robbins’ ‘The Betsy”,something about which he explains to Mumtaz. Also In the movie “Arzoo”, Sadhana is seen reading a book and when Feroz Khan asks her what it is, she says it’s the Reader’s Digest. But what she’s holding is the Reader’s Digest Condensed Book. I just want to add that Nanda’s choice of “Lolita” seemed a bit silly and I burst out laughing when I saw it in her hand. But she was supposed to be fond of Ayn Rand. Well, best wishes to you.

    • What a delightful bit of nostalgia that was! Thank you, I enjoyed that comment so much. Reminded me of my own younger days. Though fortunately I did not have to contend with anyone who thought a child reading story books was wrong! My parents, in fact, pretty much let my sister and I read whatever we wanted out of their large collection of books at whatever age we were capable of. It did lead to some odd situations (me asking my mother what ‘impotent’ meant!), but at least I didn’t attempt reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which was on their shelves but which didn’t catch my eye when I was young. ;-)

      Thank you for the suggestions too, for other scenes of book-reading characters.

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