Born in India; married Vidhu Vinod Chopra (a filmmaker). Education: Bombay University, B.A.; Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, M.A.
Home—Mumbai, India; MI.
National Award Best Book on Cinema, 2000, for Sholay; Dwarkanath Purshotham Gold Medal for academic excellence, Bombay University.
Sholay, the Making of a Classic, Penguin India (New Delhi, India), 2000.
Dilwale dulhania le jayenge (title means "The Bravehearted Will Take the Bride," British Film Institute (London, England), 2002, published as Dilwale dulhania le jayenge: The Making of a Blockbuster, HarperCollins Publishers (New Delhi, India), 2004.
King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Anupama Chopra has won numerous accolades for her film criticism. Her book Dilwale dulhania le jayenge, the title of which means "The Bravehearted Will Take the Bride," was commissioned by the British Film Institute as part of its Modern Classics Series, and received India's National Award for Best Book on Cinema. Previously, Chopra had written Sholay, the Making of a Classic, a detailed behind-the-scenes account of how G.P. Sippy's 1975 blockbuster Sholay was made. The film, which boasts the typical elements of Bollywood melodrama, became one of the biggest-grossing films in Indian history.
Chopra is perhaps best known for King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema. The book explores the life and career of Shah Rukh Khan, one of India's most popular leading men. Of Muslim birth, Khan was very much an outsider in the world of Indian film. He grew up in New Delhi, enamored of Hollywood stars such as John Travolta and Bill Cosby. After studying acting with theater professionals in Delhi he began getting TV roles, debuting in the series Fauji in 1988. After appearing in several other television series Khan moved to Bombay, the capital of India's film industry, where he hoped to break into the movies. This was a difficult feat for a young man without any industry connections, but he succeeded—largely because of talent and charisma. As Chopra explained to a CNN.com interviewer, "his charisma transcends the craft. It transcends everything…. You just can't take your eyes off him. He is … completely magnetic."
As a Muslim film star in a mostly Hindu country, Khan "absolutely sends out a great signal and helps to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims," Chopra added. The actor's appeal, she emphasized, is not limited to Indian audiences but is truly global; his fans follow him with the same kind of devotion afforded to icons such as Elvis or Tom Cruise. What's more, Khan's ability and willingness to play a wide range of roles—traditional remakes of classics, big-budget musicals with lots of song and dance routines, and even stylish thrillers—have, in Chopra's view, helped Indian cinema develop and expand.
A writer for Kirkus Reviews enjoyed Chopra's depiction of Khan, noting that the star's story contains the same "drama, tragedy and seemingly insurmountable hurdles that populate his movies, and Chopra infuses the pivotal moments of his life with an edge-of-your-seat tension worthy of the best Bollywood blockbusters." A contributor to Glamsham.com described King of Bollywood as a "sweeping portrait of a man who is worshipped as a modern-day God, a country finding its identity and a movie industry that helped to change the face of India."
Writing in New York Times Book Review, Charles Taylor praised Chopra's analysis of the Indian film industry. In both King of Bollywood and Dilwale dulhania le jayenge, he wrote, Chopra explores the "liberalization that came with an expanding economy, rejecting Bollywood's previous view of the West as purgatory while at the same time expressing fear of waning Indian tradition and identity. The brilliance of Chopra's reading of [Dilwale dulhania le jayenge]," Taylor went on, "is that she argues for its simultaneous traditionalism and progressiveness, a dual but not contradictory approach that can be applied to some of our greatest mainstream movies, from The Best Years of Our Lives to Schindler's List."
Discussing the popularity and influence of Bollywood with a CNN.com writer, Chopra emphasized the ability of Bollywood films to connect with people on an emotional level. "I love the non-cynicism of it," she said. "It is not dark or cynical like so much European or Western cinema. It is positive, it is happy, but it is not infantile. It's optimistic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Hollywood Reporter, July 26, 2005, "Cries and Whispers."
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007 review of King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema.
Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Barry X. Miller, review of King of Bollywood, p. 93.
New York Times Book Review, October 7, 2007, Charles Taylor, "Star of India."
Publishers Weekly, May 21, 2007, review of King of Bollywood, p. 46.
Anupama Chopra Home Page,http://www.anupamachopra.com (April 8, 2008).
Boloji.com,http://www.boloji.com/bookreviews/ (April 8, 2008), review of King of Bollywood.
CNN.com,http://www.cnn.com/ (April 8, 2008), "Q & A with Anupama Chopra."
Glamsham.com,http://www.glamsham.com/ (April 8, 2008), review of King of Bollywood.
Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (April 8, 2008), Sudheer Apte, review of King of Bollywood.
Rediff.com,http://www.rediff.com/ (April 8, 2008), Ronjita Das, author interview.