‘The Colours of Passion’ (Amazon link: https://goo.gl/cnY38Z) puts the spotlight on two leading ladies of Tollywood, their careers presently at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Hiya Sen lost her parents in a train accident when she was seven and was brought up by an uncle who worked in the local post office in a small town in Burdwan. When she was in the third year of her Arts course in college, she filled out the application form for a beauty pageant in Kolkata, much against the wishes of her uncle. She gave up her studies and headed for Kolkata. She won the crown. Modelling assignments, photoshoots for popular magazines, roles in television serials and then movies—everything happened in quick succession and Hiya never looked back. Opportunities kept knocking on her door, and her talent propelled her to dizzying heights of fame in an incredibly short time. She went on to marry Manav Chauhan, the scion of the Chauhan family, who carved out a distinct identity for himself as one of the key architects of the new face of Kolkata, building one plush mall and residential complex after another. His marriage with the Tollywood heart-throb Hiya Sen made headlines for days.
On the other hand, we meet Rituja Bose. Rituja ruled the Tollywood silver screen for close to two decades and made as many headlines for her box office successes as for her scandalous escapades. Over the years, she transformed herself from the doe-eyed fresh-faced girl-next-door who became the city’s sweetheart overnight, to a voluptuous sex symbol, inhibitions in front of the camera steadily slipping with every passing year. In her interviews, she attributes that transformation to ‘demands of roles’ and ‘changing tastes of the audience exposed to global cinema’. In reality, she has been struggling for a few years now to ward off competition from younger girls and much to the dismay of her fans, has resorted to not-so-aesthetic exhibitionism to pull in the crowds. Her film with National Award winning director Aniruddha Goswami where she shares screen space with Hiya Sen is being considered her best, and possibly her last option to rise from the ashes and make a comeback after a string of flops.
I am sure these characters look familiar.
I have been a celebrity-watcher for several years now. I love following the journeys of celebrities often from humble beginnings, often from nondescript backgrounds, to heights of fame, and observing how those journeys change them. Not only in the way they look and carry themselves, but also in their outlook, their opinions, their consciousness of social responsibilities and in few cases, their arrogance and insecurities and what those insecurities often lead them to.
And having been in the corporate world for several years, I have realized that these traits are not characteristic of only the glamour industry. The same power games, the same insecurities, the same treachery and the hypocrisy exist everywhere. And at the same time, there are rays of hope to be discovered everywhere.
Because, at the end of the day, it is the complex, unpredictable human psyche at the core of all stories.
So, while readers – including seasoned celebrity journalists – and reviewers are surprised at how, being a complete ‘outsider’, I could so meticulously build the characters and create the settings in a novel based on the battles for supremacy in the glamour industry, I personally could relate to everything that goes on in the story.