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Moments Captured Into A Medium

Ipsita Sengupta

By Anupama Chopra
OM Books International, Noida, 2013, pp. 358, Rs. 395.00


Freeze  Frame  is mainly a collection of interviews that noted film critic Anupama Chopra had conducted for the show, ‘Picture  This’, on NDTV between 2007 and 2011. Apart from this are interviews published in Vogue, and articles by Chopra contributed to Open Magazine in 2010–2011. What we are reading is of course how the conversations have transitioned from an electronic audio-visual medium to a literary medium, and from a series to a condensed anthology. Editing has taken place at the broadcast level as well as in the making of the book. In the resulting work, what we find is that the strength of her questions lies in exploring personal experiences of the respondents vis-a-vis colleagues and acting stints, and sometimes some biographical reflections. In fact Karan Johar’s foreword emphasizes just this. And though not very often, it is good that the emerging stories point to various industry practices like the career of female actors after marriage, foreign actors’ interactions with the Indian film industry over time, and experiencing oneself at the vortex of stardom. But, the questions still engage very little with cinema as a medium, or an art form, or collective social memory. Or perhaps, only to the level of characters played. The medium of television through which the questions and answers were first disseminated, and the policies of time or content of the channel may have put restrictions on what could be taken forward from a reply. For example when Chopra asks Russell Crowe about the experience of doing a literary character that has been performed ‘successfully’, and he latches on to the concept of ‘success’ and leads us to how the unique personality of each actor will lend a different quality to the same character being played. She begins her conversation brilliantly with Abhay Deol and Anurag Kashyap, with a question on cinematic interpretations of Devdas. But then it fizzles out into simple interaction stories of the two artists, Shah Rukh Khan’s version of the character of Devdas, and touch-and-go deliberations on popular notions of this character. In each case there is no further pondering on the historical conditions of each version of the story. Aishwayra Rai Bachchan begins to talk about recreating another time on the sets of Action Replay, but the next question posed to her shifts base. The way the interviews are initiated by Chopra in this collection, as in the way she writes reviews ...

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