This is what I ended up exclaiming mid-way through reading ‘The Kiss of Life’.
How could someone pen down a 180 odd page book on the fight his four year old son gave to defeat cancer? Won’t it become way too depressing? Would it be actually possible to hold a reader’s attention? Is it going to be a tell-tale account or would there be fictional elements incorporated into it?
All these apprehensions started evaporating by the time I was through with the first 30-40 pages of the book. Emraan Hashmi, the man who has seen a roller coaster ride as far as his professional career is concerned, keeps it all straight and simple while narrating the tale of how he and his wife Parveen came together to help their son Ayaan battle out cancer. Of course there is a certain Batman who helped too (more about that later). What impresses most about the book is the human element that is kept intact right through, something which ensures that as a reader, you have an instant connect.
‘The Kiss of Life’ – There couldn’t have been a more apt title for the book which comes from the man (with good help from young Bilal Siddiqi, who has helped in putting together the book) who has forever been tagged as a Serial Kisser. Guess what, Emraan actually takes out a few moments to give a tongue in cheek account of how he gave this tag to himself during the promotional shoot of long forgotten Jawani Deewani. Nonetheless, the fact that this time around it is a father-son tale of bringing back a life which seemed to be snatched away from them, ‘The Kiss Of Life’ comes with its connotation.
It is a known fact that a couple of years ago, cancer was detected in Ayaan. At that time, Emraan was gearing up to get going on three films – Raja Natwarlal, Mr. X and Hamaari Adhuri Kahaani. Moreover, his Ungli was nearing completion as well. Of course, work became less of a worry when it was found that there was tumour in Ayaan, and that had affected one of his kidneys as well. A surgery took place, and then a long process of chemotherapy, something that took Emraan’s family from Mumbai to Toronto for a long duration. In the middle of this all, Emraan also completed his three films.
All of this may seem to be neatly summarized in six lines but the fact remains that the journey which Emraan, Parveen and Ayaan took would shock anyone who has ever felt connected to a loved one. The period of uncertainty, the suspense about the cure, the suggestions around various medications, the multiple opinions sought, and above all, the mental and physical trauma faced by the one who is suffering from cancer and those around him – you can actually get at least the sense of pain while turning over the pages.
Emraan and Bilal do well not to make it depressing though. This is where the motif of Batman, the superhero, comes into play. Ayaan loves superheroes and Emraan reveals how it was the call from the Batman that kept things tricking for the young one. Read on the book to find out how.
Meanwhile, the book is kept engaging with many anecdotes about his Bollywood life that Emraan shares intermittently. No, he doesn’t make it an autobiography. Instead, he alternates the tales of cancer with his own filmy life, so that as a reader you are saved from the monotony. So whether it was his first shot in debut film Footpath, or the disaster that he was when he stepped in front of the camera, to the stardom he experienced after Murder to the kisses that he is known for to the golden period of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, The Dirty Picture and Raaz 3 to the slump that he has faced off late – he says it all!
What turns out to be the best deal about the book though is the manner in which Emraan goes about educating (and even requesting) readers about living a healthy lifestyle, so as to prevent cancer. This isn’t something that you had expected from the book. However, Emraan does that (and with his heart right in there) and that too with right detailing as he shares good deal of what kind of food to eat (or not eat), what sort of medication could one opt for, an extract of the research that he did in this period of turmoil and the day-to-day lifestyle changes that one could begin to adopt.
Just for this effort, the book deserves a must read.
PS: Never once in the book he mentions Azhar, his upcoming release in May, which speaks volumes of how he hasn’t used this book (or the timing of its release) for the publicity of his film. Bravo!
Price: Rs. 399/=