Book Review: The Perils of being Moderately Famous by Soha Ali Khan

Book Review: The book taught me that famous people are more than their Biographies on Wikipedia. I Highly recommend the Book!

Internet gives information, only books afford us knowledge. I am more convinced about this after reading “The Perils of being Moderately Famous” by Soha Ali Khan. The Worldwide Web tells us Soha Ali Khan is the youngest daughter of MAK (Tiger) Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore, younger sister of Saif Ali Khan, sister in law of Kareena Kapoor and herself a “moderately famous” actor. Some old reviewer told us she has inherited her mother’s looks and father’s acting capabilities. I was blissfully cucooned in my world of opinions till our Editor suggested this book to me. Having watched her in not more than 3 movies including the monster hit “Rang De Basanti”, I gave a half-hearted consent. Let me share my impressions after reading the book.

moderately famous soha ali khanThe book is not exactly a pompous autobiography of a famous star kid who made it big thanks to sheer accident of birth. It is more of a rumination of a true flesh and blood human being, who was born a Princess and whose name means exactly that in Arabic (Soha in Arabic means Princess). A rumination laced with chuckles, self-deprecation, struggles, defeats, victories, royalty, pride and absolutely no prejudice. Soha starts with an “Introduction” that makes it clear that the book is not about Saif and Kareena, thereby discouraging readers expecting to know about the more successful brother and even more successful sister-in-law. The self-deprecating journey starts in true earnest.

Big Shoes, Small Feet: The first chapter deals with the Royal family of Pataudi and Bhopal. It is concise and gives precious details about the conscientious Senior Pataudi who stood up to Douglas Jardine during the infamous Bodyline series. It tells us about the losses suffered by her father Tiger Patuadi and his conquest over a tragedy that lead to permanent loss of an eye in an accident, which he dismissed as “a little unlucky”. We have read about the Tiger Pataudi from others. Soha introduces us to the human side of the Tiger. The description of the moment when she walked wearing her famous Dad’s socks is cute and goosebumps inducing at the same time.

Bangla Bolte Paro ?: Sharmila Tagore was a revolutionary actor cum star of her times. She was bold and beautiful and; she lived the life her way. A peak into the Sharmila – Tiger love story and the Tagore family tracing back to Rabindranath Tagore forms the crux of the chapter. It is an easy read and includes stories of a lot of great people.

All Roads Lead to Saifeena: The chapter quotes delicious examples of the juvenile nature the people in our media. It is short and ridiculously funny.

A Coming of Age: This is the best part of an already beautiful book. A “could have been” spoilt brat kid of two hugely famous parents narrates her insecurities, her struggles and those small victories in an alien place called the Balliol College in Oxford University. The college where Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi created a record that lasted for more than half a century. The college from where Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens graduated (Who is Christopher Hitchens? He was a fierce rationalist, known for his bold views about religion and other debatable subjects).  Little Ms. Pataudi made her mark at Balliol and also makes us fall in love with her.

Wakeful City: Soha takes us through the forever raging debate of Mumbai Vs Delhi and gives her verdict on the matter. Tiny anecdotes of her encounters with banking, house-break, pollution in Delhi and the Mumbai floods keep the flow in smooth sail mode.

A Working Actor: This is a brutally honest account of the “moderately famous” actor who chose cinema as her career after doing different things she did not really enjoy. Soha unfolds the story by describing how and why the world maps are grossly wrong in depicting the sizes of different countries. She beautifully connects this to the world of Bollywood actors, who tend to live in a system where they believe the world surrounds them. The working actor narrates her experiences in the world of cinema that already had extremely famous people from her own family. There is a collection of some priceless photographs of Soha and her family, including her much revered father.

We’ll Always Have Paris: Soha takes us on a hitchhiking journey through Europe and the African deserts with her friends from college. Getting out of her comfort zone and doing things that would challenge her and coming out a winner, the self proclaimed five legged spider does fabulously well for herself.

It’s Complicated: Here are the Stories of inevitable crushes and relationships a girl goes through and her concepts of an ideal man in her life. Soha emphatically establishes there are no ideal people in the world. Kunal Khemu, the love of her life and her husband falls short of all but one of her concepts and; yet love happens. It is relatable, believable and loveable.

Worth the Weight: It is about the pregnancy and arrival of her daughter Inaaya, to whom the book is dedicated. The best quality of the book is the near total absence of hyperbole that is a common feature of many people connected to the tinsel world. A moderately successful but immensely intelligent star opens up about her life and the people who influenced her life.

The Perils of being Moderately Famous is a beautiful book by a really beautiful human being called Soha Ali Khan Pataudi. It is completely worth the time, the money and the intellect of the readers. I would not hesitate to recommend this as a must read for all those who know Soha and all those who have some connection to the world of cinema and all those who love a good book.

Details of the Book

The Perils of being Moderately Famous
Author: Soha Ali Khan
First published in 2017
Penguin Random House India Pvt Ltd.
Cover Photograph: Mitesh
Cover illustration: Priya Kuriyan
Cover design: Ahlavat Gunjan
210 pages, Soft Cover
Price: Rs. 299/-

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