By Kishori Sud
Title: “The Perils of Being Moderately Famous”; Author: Soha Ali Khan; Publisher: Penguin Books: Pages: 210; Price: Rs 299
She comes from a family of heavyweights: Her father, the late cricketer Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi; her mother, veteran actress Sharmila Tagore; her brother, actor Saif Ali Khan; and Kareena Kapoor Khan is her sister-in-law. However, actress and former banker Soha Ali Khan, now married to actor Kunal Kemmu, has had her own fair share of adventures which she has shared in a crisp memoir.
The author of “The Perils of Being Moderately Famous” shows that she despite her lineage, she has striven for as “normal” a life as you and me.
In the introduction, Soha makes it clear that she offers no fodder for gossip from the lives of Kareena or Saif, let alone the couple’s one-year-old child Taimur.
The smooth read sheds light on a number of phases, aspects and facets of her life, including her life in Mumbai when she started living on her own away from the limelight of showbiz, faced a robber (not technically, as Kunal battled the intruder like a knight in shining armour), found her calling in a field she had not set out for initially — things common to commoners.
Soha gives an insight into her life before she signed up for “Dil Maange More” in 2004 and also recounts how she got trashed for her work by unforgiving movie critics and how her family helped her, shaped her and advised her on how to face the music and not lose heart.
People, especially from the the generation of the 1980s and 1990s, will easily relate to the funny, sad and happening episodes of her life as Soha too went through the phase when access to mobile phones was limited, fathers were men of few words when on the phone but had, and still have, proper conversations when present in person.
The book keeps you hooked as Soha recalls life when she was studying modern history at Oxford’s Balliol College and earned a master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Belonging to the family tree of Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore, Soha has a knack for writing and expressing herself in print.
If you love travelling, you will find a friend in Soha, who has travelled with a semi-stranger, trusted her guts and tasted freedom of the heart that backpackers seek all their lives. She suggests that it’s good to travel as it broadens your mind on a number of things and makes you see the bigger picture in life.
On her life in showbiz, Soha does not mince words in telling her readers that “life as an actor can be stifling”. There is a warning hidden between the lines as she says: “It is easy to feel validated or destroyed by other people’s opinions and living on the surface becomes a simpler, more appealing option.”
Soha has also addressed the recent phenomena where people misuse social media and troll individuals they have never met and know nothing about.
Citing an example, she recalled how she faced the nuisance herself when she was targeted on Twitter for having expressed regret over former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan announcing his exit in 2016, and then on another occasion when she had worn a sari.
With a crystal-clear insight on who she is and what she has gone through, Soha proves with the book that even “moderately famous” people are normal human beings.
(Kishori Sud can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)