It's one of those things you can never do well enough.
Writing about Amitabh Bachchan is hard, especially for a British academic who doesn't quite 'get' all the Hindi yet. Jessica Hines is quite the character, a woman who likens Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham to 'a cola advert' and shrugs off a tremendous amount of tabloid scandal with a smile.
Her book, Looking for the Big B: Bollywood, Bachchan & Me, currently on shelves everywhere is half biography, half memoir, telling of her travails following Amitabh around the world, trying to get him to answer questions while he rapidly channel surfs.
One scorching Mumbai noon, as Jessica sat poolside with her beloved coconut water, Raja Sen was around to ask some questions.
Both your Bloomsbury bio and the back of your book mention 'clown school' in a very offhand way. So what was it, really?
Okay, clown school was a very serious occupation. I went there when I was just out of school, about 20. At school what I really loved doing was physical theatre. My teacher at school was amazing at physical theatre and her brother ran a great Marx company. So I was influenced by this, and I went to Canada to pursue that. I loved doing that but I left my clown partner back in Toronto, and nobody ever really filled her shoes -- her big, floppy shoes. And I did Clown for, all told, about three years.
In the picture: Amitabh in Don. Inset: Jessica Hines