Books in Movies is essentially a microblog curatorial that itemises the books and magazines that the stars in various movies read or are surrounded with.
“Ever wondered what people read in movies?” is the one-liner bio of Books in Movies.
In an exclusive chat with me, Abhisek Suman reminisces his formative days of Books in Movies and memories of how it all began. Edited excerpts:
Tell us about yourself.
I live in Delhi and I am in the accounting profession juggling between work and studies. I belong to two worlds -the corporate and the cinema world, and it’s not hard to guess which one excites me more.
What kind of films do you cover?
Covering Hindi films is my first priority. I also post non-Hindi films, be it in any regional or foreign language.
Tell us the process before tweeting.
Cinema means much more to me than it does to people I know. I try to watch one movie almost every day. So whenever I notice books in any scene, I pause it and take a screenshot, and then read more about it. If I am watching a movie in a theatre, I take notes and wait for the DVD to release and then post them later.
Do you moderate Books in Movies alone or have any other contributor?
I curate this account myself. Some people also contribute by sending pics. Sanjay Desai from Gandhinagar (Gujarat) is a frequent contributor to this page. I post all the pics on Twitter and Instagram (with credits).
How did you meet Sanjay?
We met on Twitter itself. He’s such a nice fellow. I don’t know much about him though. Like me he’s also psyched up for such trivia. And he has, so far, contributed a lot to this page.
How did you get this amazing idea?
I got the idea to start this account from a fellow tweep, Pankaj Sachdeva. He is one of my favourite bloggers. I initially started tweeting from my personal account, and later created this account in April 2017.
What has the journey been like for you as someone who loves reading and is such a fan of movies? Give us some background on how it all began.
I spent my childhood in a small town of Bihar where there was no electricity then. Reading books and magazines was the only pastime. My maternal grandfather was a college lecturer and he motivated me to read books and story magazines. So that is how I plunged into the intoxicating world of books, losing myself in epic Hindi literature pieces by Munshi Premchand and Harishankar Parsai. As far as movies were concerned, I had seen very few films till I came to Delhi. You’d be surprised to know that I actually watched my first ever movie in a theatre in 2011, No One Killed Jessica. I am an introvert. I have always been sort of more to myself and so this became my world and continues to be.
Books in Movies is followed by Konkona Sen Sharma. Can you inform us about other celeb followers?
Mayank Shekhar (Film critic), Ajay Brahmatmaj (Film news Editor, Dainik Jagran) and Stephanie Bond (American Author) are some of them.
Would you explain the detailed research process before the publishing?
Well, I do all the research myself. Most of the times, I find them easily but sometimes, the books are not properly visible in the films or I can’t find any details about them. In such cases, I search about the books/authors using related keywords.
Apart from Books in Movies you also run a blog, which has chronicled your daily movie viewing experiences. Give us some more info about it.
I have seen more than 3,600 fims so far. I have kept a count ever since I started watching movies and it’s all in my list. So basically I started my blog to post my “Movies that I have watched list” ( and later my read list). Also, I was very curious to know frivolous trivia like, which Hindi films are adapted or inspired from books; or which Hindi films have no songs; or in how many films actors have played multiple roles, etc. And I was so disappointed to see that none of the website/articles had featured more than 20 films in those lists (and mostly the popular ones). So I started compiling these since 2013 and so far I have posted around 20 such articles. I have compiled more than 330 Hindi films which are adapted or inspired from literary works. You can find those compilations here. Apart from the compilations, I also love making listicles of my favourite movies, performances, songs etc.
Your future plans apart from Books in Movies and blogging?
I want to make a website for Books in Movies which will have a section for untraceable books as well. And in future, if possible, would love to write a book on it with more interesting details.
Give us some hints of your bookshelf.
I love reading Hindi literature and cinema-related books. Rag Darbari by Shrilal Shukla is one of my absolute favourites. Tamas by Bhisham Shahni and Jhootha Sach by Yashpal are two books which shook me hard. And, of course, Premchand. Love everything by him. I also love reading pulp-novels by Surendra Mohan Pathak. In non-fictions, I loved Name Place Animal Thing by Mayank Shekhar, Written by Salim-Javed by Diptakirti Chaudhuri and Conversations with Mani Ratnam by Baradwaj Rangan. I also love reading Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond and Saadat Hasan Manto.
Five Indian movies, which you love.
Five Indian movies! Well, it’s so difficult to pick only five films. Here it goes (not in any order).:
1. Shekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen – I have never seen a Hindi film like this before. It haunted me for many weeks.
2. Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday – This movie turned me into the geek I am. It was so real and hard-hitting. This and Bandit Queen made me discover the real cinema.
3. Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro – Arguably the finest Hindi comedy film. Also, it made such a fine statement on the socio-political scenario which is still relevant after 34 years.
4. Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa – Had seen it when I was 14-years old and it moved me so much. This film was flawless and made me a Guru Dutt fan forever. Recently I got to experience the beautifully restored version of it on the big screen –courtesy, 1018mb.com.
5. Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan – Very seldom a movie comes along that touches your heart so deeply, and makes you think. Masaan was one such film. It was heartbeakingly awesome. Made me cry so much.
Who inspires you to do what you do?
Nobody, in my real life, knows my love for cinema, not even my family. I do not have any friends in my real life. That’s why I love Twitter. I met some of the craziest cinephiles here. They always encourage me. Fortunately for me, Books in Movies has been getting a good response and support from fellow movie buffs which accelerates my momentum even further to keep continuing.
Would you like to share any recent memories from your life that brought you joy?
I lived my fanboy moment when I met my favourite film critic Mayank Shekhar this year at a film festival. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I have been a regular reader of his reviews and articles since 2009 and have learned a lot about movies through his pieces. It was such a satisfying feeling to watch him conduct an event from such close quarters. I also got a signed copy of his book Name Place Animal Thing.
This untiring and zealous movie and book lover can be contacted on Twitter @abhisek_s
Sk Badiruddin is a Kolkata based multimedia journalist, can be contacted on Twitter @skbadiruddin