ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
“We travel because we know we will come home and when we do, home is the same but we are changed and that changes everything.”
The above line is the best and most profound statement that I read in this book. Don’t get me wrong, there are many other good things to take from the book, but this was probably the best.
I am a huge fan of memoirs written in an easy conversational style and Soha Ali Khan’s The Perils of Being Moderately Famous is one memoir which certainly meets the criteria.
A Mini History Lesson
Soha Ali Khan chooses to initiate the journey by penning an introduction about her family’s illustrious history. It will be a massive understatement to say that Soha is gifted as far as legacy is concerned. Almost a dozen celebrated names on both sides of her family do help Soha in piquing the reader’s interest from the very start.
She writes gloriously about her forefathers’ legacy as the Nawabs of Pataudi. By the way, did you know that she is the Princess of Pataudi and also Bhopal? Yes, the famous lineage of the Nawabs of Bhopal also finds a link in her already famous pedigree.
As if this isn’t enough, our very own Rabindra Nath Tagore graces the mother’s side of her ancestry. Sharmila Tagore also is no small a name, and in Bollywood circles, her name is taken with utmost respect and veneration. I love how Soha prides herself on this and lays it all out for the reader to know and understand her family better. The fact that she puts this at the very start of the book speaks a lot about how much she values her family.
Easy but Rich Language
I love how Soha writes, she definitely has all the qualities of a good writer. Her writing is effortlessly interesting. She writes in an easy breezy manner while using a rich language. She manages to establish a rapport with the reader in the first few pages and soon the reader is in the same boat as her.
Flawless and Candid Writing
Her writing is simply flawless. Her candid conversational style soon makes friends with the reader. She passionately talks about her family and very fondly writes about the relationship with her Dad. She is also quite candid when it comes to taboo topics like relationships, boyfriends, drinking and sex.
How Education Matters the Most
Despite being a celebrated actor, very few people know about Soha’s intellectual prowess. This particular bit is quite evident when she drops in information such as about the Alpine Salamanders and Mercator’s Projection. She is an Oxford University graduate and is extremely well read. Further, even her book makes such a strong case for the benefits of reading. It is, therefore, very difficult to not salute this nerdy beauty.
Looking for a Career Change, Here You Go
Soha, after her postgraduate degree, worked in Mumbai as a Management Associate with Citigroup. Even though she herself chose this career path and stayed away from films deliberately in her early twenties, she could not resist the glamour of the movie industry when life gave an opportunity again. She is a classic case of “career shifters” and reading about her experience might help one make a difficult choice and/or enable them to stick to it.
Repetitions Bore Me
The title is quite in sync with what lies inside the book, The Perils of Being Moderately Famous. This is indeed a good thing but when it gets repetitive it becomes an eyesore. Throughout the course of the book, Soha has repeatedly mentioned of her struggle to carve an identity of her own, in contrast to the more popular members of her family. This was a good insight into her life as an Ali Khan and as a human, but I think, it got a bit too repetitive for my taste.
Travel You Must
The chapter “We’ll Always Have Paris” was the one that inspired me the most. She writes about her travel experiences in this one. All the experiences were exciting to read about and I loved every bit of this chapter – be it the hitch-hiking to Paris, or spending the night in a clay hut on the edge of the great Sahara Desert. Read this one, and I am sure you will be inspired to plan a little adventure of your own right away.
The chapter titled “All Roads Lead to Saifeena” is quite hilarious. Soha very comically manages to tell us about the insane things she gets asked about all the time when it comes to Saifeena. Be it the premiere of an interior redecorating show or a press conference for luxury watches, there is always that ridiculous question about Saifeena. This, when combined with Soha’s effortless writing, makes for an entertaining chapter indeed.
Overall, The Perils of Being Moderately Famous is a good one time read. There is entertainment, there is history, there is drama and the necessary musings (many of those). The book makes for a light-hearted read and can be easily done in 3-4 hours. I, therefore, rate it 4 out of 5 stars on entertainment quotient.
Pick it Up if
Pick the book if you are looking for a light-hearted memoir. If you like Bollywood memoirs (I sure do) and if you are interested in mildly inspiring reads, this book will prove to be a good read.
Skip it if
Skip The Perils of Being Moderately Famous if you are looking for a path-breaking memoir – this isn’t the one you are looking for. Also, if you are looking for reading about Saif and Kareena, this book should not be even on your reading list. The book is by and about Soha Ali Khan and it will be great if the expectations are in tune with the subject.
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