Writer Mohan Deep, left, and his latest novel ‘The Five Foolish Virgins’
Facebook conversations are mostly shooting the breeze. They are about this, that and the other and not meant to lead to anything. Certainly not a 400-plus page novel. But that’s what my friend, fellow journalist and writer Mohan Deep has done.
In January this year during a quick exchange of pleasantries on Facebook, Mohan said this: “Mayank, do you remember you asked me to ‘do a stinging Hindi movie industry novel?’ I have completed it. Must thank you.”
Well, late last month he sent me an advance copy of that novel ‘The Five Foolish Virgins.’ The book is a fictionalized insider account of the world of Hindi cinema, a world Mohan intimately familiar with. Having written three star biographies ‘Madhubala’, ‘Simply Scandalous: Meena Kumari” and ‘Eurekha’, apart from four other books, telling stories is what he does.
Early on in his career as a journalist in Bombay Mohan used to report on the city’s underworld as well Hindi cinema and had become familiar with the overlaps between the two worlds. He draws on his familiarity with both to offer a peek inside to those who may never gain access to either.
As a rule, I stopped reviewing books, films or any other creative works a long time ago. There is something both vain and futile about reviewing any creative work. In keeping with that I am not going to review Mohan’s book. It is obvious that he has packed his novels with characters, plot and subplots familiar to those of us who have some experience of having dealt with the more cheesy-cum-seedy-cum-sinister aspects of the Hindi film world. Of course, in his novel Mohan brings in serious issues of crimes such as rape and murder of a 14-year-old aspiring to become a movie star. At the center of the allegations of rape and murder of a an underage girl is Aman Kumar, who is supposed to be one of the five A-list stars.
Mohan has written the book with his eye firmly trained on India’s growing young demographic that consumes popular fiction about themes they understand readily. What is unusual about this book is that it is an insider account about facets of Hindi cinema which are not easily visible to those blinded by its glamor.
To his credit Mohan has been known to shoot from the hip when it comes to deflating massive egos that inhabit the Hindi movie world. This novel offers him one more platform to indulge in his favorite pastime. I suspect it might get optioned for a movie.