I remember meeting Soha Ali Khan for the launch of a designer watch in Hyderabad several years ago. Still a novice journalist, I was enamoured by how beautiful she was. By how gracefully she posed for pictures and paused to speak to every salesperson, genuinely curious about the watches on display. But most of all, when I was finally inside a glass cabin speaking to the actress, I was starstruck by her illustrious background. She was, of course, the daughter of veteran cricketer and Nawab, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and the prolific actress Sharmila Tagore, but also an alumnus of Balliol College, Oxford and London School Of Economics and Political Science. She was confident, quick-witted and very articulate. And recently, when I heard she was writing her memoir, I was anything but surprised.
The Perils Of Being Moderately Famous has Soha fondly penning down the history of her family, anecdotes from her childhood, her time at Oxford and how she became an actress. Saifeena is discussed and how sometimes her interviews are just a guise for journalists to find out more about the nation's favourite kid - Taimur. The title itself is a testament to a self-deprecating but endearing vein of thought that runs through the length of the book when the former investment banker discusses her overwhelmingly well-known family members.
She says in good humour, "Is my life really worth writing about, or, more to the point, worth your paying to read about? Well, the good news is you were right to not wait for the movie."
But this book is very much Soha's story, who admits that she would finish a cryptic crossword puzzle faster than getting ready for a red-carpet event. In the introduction to the book, she admits that several people have naturally deduced that since she is an avid reader, writing a book should come naturally to her. And this case, such an assumption is not misplaced.
As a layperson, my curiosity was imminent to find out more about her distinguished lineage. This book delivers on that and more. At no point does the author negate her privilege, she is constantly grateful for it to have helped her lead the life which has formed her experiences as an individual. From losing her father to cancer to her knowledge of her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter Inaaya, the memoir draws a full circle. An actor's life is expected to be one of vanity and pride but Soha is not afraid of making fun of herself.
Rest assured, you'll turn the last page with a smile on your face and with the obvious wish that there were tons more.
Buy the book here.