BOOK REVIEW: My Years with Boss and Gemini Studios

My Years with Boss and Gemini Studios, Ashokamitran, Orient Longman, p.48, Rs. 110.

Humorous look-see

NOT many are aware that the leading writer Ashokamitran had worked at the Gemini Studios for some years as Public Relations Officer at a time when the Indian movie mogul S.S. Vasan and Gemini Studios were at the zenith of creative activity in Indian cinema. Indeed it is surprising that even though Vasan is one of the biggest names in Indian cinema no writer has bothered to do a book on him and this is the first of its kind. For this single reason alone it is a most welcome addition to Indian film literature.

Ashokamitran is equally at home both in Tamil and English and this little book of a mere 48 pages contains delicious dollops of delightful humour, which is so characteristic of the famed author. He was never close at work to Vasan which perhaps prevented him from taking a close and serious look-see at the creative side of the Gemini Studios productions in more than one language. But as they say, even a cat can look at the king, and the lynx-eyed, observant smart cat has taken a close look not only at the boss but also the happenings at the studio during the author’s brief but bright innings.

There are many events of Indian film history not known to even to film buffs, which Ashokamitran has narrated in his characteristics fascinating style, mixing it all with humour. There are many features like Rajaji and “Avvaiyar”, the surprising visit of Stephen Spender, of all the places in the world to Gemini Studios and many such nuggets of interesting untold history.

Vasan comes out as a dynamic man with vision, which many film producers do not possess even in this day. The various aspects of the man as administrator, creative person, fond parent, showman and, his penchant to take risks, all these facets and more of the man have been brilliantly portrayed by the author.

Ashokamitran is also a critic of high calibre and it is imminent in this eminently readable book. His pithy comments about famous personalities of the last century like C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer speak volumes of the author’s critical talents.

His racy narration is absolutely fascinating. It captures the reader from page one and the book keeps one absorbs from start to finish, which cannot be said of many books published today and even win awards!

Vasan was one of the giants not only in Indian cinema but also in many other fields like magazine publishing. His life, the Horatio Algerish rags-to-riches saga, which would serve as source of inspiration to the now-generation, awaits to be told in full…


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