Title: SABU – The Remarkable Story Of India’s First Actor In Hollywood
Author: Debleena Majumdar
Publisher: Locksley Hall Publishing LLP
First Publication: 2021
Book Summary: SABU by Debleena Majumdar
In 1937, a young boy, Sabu, acted his way into the hearts of audiences. An illustrious movie career followed. His real life was no less dramatic than a movie. Orphaned early, he worked in stables in Mysore.
How did he make the journey across the ocean to become India’s first Hollywood star?
And just when life was perfect, what changed his story?
How did he reinvent himself, as a World War II soldier, as a businessman and as a circus performer?
Read SABU to know the untold and forgotten story of the boy who became India’s first actor in Hollywood.
Book Review: SABU by Debleena Majumdar
SABU by Debleena Majumdar is a surprisingly inspiring book. It was inspiring to read about how Sabu Dastagir overcame a challenging childhood to become the first Indian film star on the international stage, but it was also jam-packed with motivational passages for anyone who is working toward a dream.
Sabu was India’s first film star to gain international recognition. Although he was often called Sabu Dastagir, his real name was Selar Sheikh Sabu. Orphaned at age seven, Sabu followed his father’s footstep and worked as a mahout in the stables of the Raja of Mysore, from where he was recruited to star in the Korda brothers‘ first empire film, Elephant Boy. He was barely 13 years old when the movie released in 1937. During the same year, Sabu was brought to England to shoot sequences for their next empire film called The Drum which was shot in Wales. Afterwards, he went to the USA to publicize the film and then stayed there for the shooting Thief of Baghdad. He signed a contract with Universal Studios after he finished The Jungle Book with the Kordas. Sabu became a citizen of the United States in 1944, and he served in the US Army Air Force, flying combat missions for which he received a commendation.
Sabu was one of the most prominent figures in international cinema. His movies painted the East in a fantastical light, showing it as an exotic fantasy world. From being a stable boy to becoming a screen icon to a circus man, his life followed a full circle. Although, the legacy of Sabu’s work lives on today and deserves greater recognition.
This is an honest, inspiring portrayal of film star Sabu Dastagir. Author Debleena Majumdar does a fabulous job of writing about his filmography, other Hollywood types, and general motion picture history. The author’s style is easy to grasp for a biography book because it makes you feel as if you are talking to an old friend, who just happens to be an expert on old Hollywood. Debleena has done a wonderful job of researching and compiling information about Sabu’s life. She details his parent’s lives, his childhood, his break into films, his struggles and his life after films.
This is a relatively short book so it was a very quick read for me. The book starts during Sabu’s childhood focusing on his journey to becoming an actor. There were anecdotes scattered throughout the book which helped to tell this story. There were some lucky breaks on his path to stardom but there was also a lot of work. Once he landed his first movie, extraordinary things started to happen. Some of the stories that author tells in this book were just amazing. It is kind of amazing just how lucky Sabu was in some situations. There is no doubt that he worked incredibly hard to get where he was.
I went into the book knowing next to nothing about Sabu and learned a lot about him in these pages. I think that anyone that has seen any of his films will enjoy some of the background information presented in this book. Even if you are new to his work, I think that there is something to take away from this book.