someday ill be in company of all....

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lucknow boy: A memoir by Vinod Mehta

                   


                       Price Rs 499 (got it for 349 from Flipkart.com
                                                   Autobiography


 I'm always reluctant to buy autobiography mostly because of being overly timeline oriented, and being self indulging(well that is what a autobiography is supposed to be) but most often they go over the line, but this one was like  reading a fiction on the run...My last post on "The museum of innocence" Pamuk's romance with the city reminded me about this book where Mehta describes his fond memories about the people of Lucknow while he was young.. Outlook is the only magazine (i'm not too proud about it) where I pay attention to the editorial note even though I'm not a loyal reader of it..So it isn't surprising when I readily picked his memoir isn't...


As a kid Mehta was an average kid with all his limitations (though good in sports) in terms of thoughts and education (third class in B.A)brought up in a modest middle class society during 60's Lucknow with  high value.He had wonderful gang of friends in school who stuck for life..According to him life in Lucknow had lot of shades to it for instance “In Lucknow at that time, you could be a liar, crook, bigot, miser, ugly, lower caste - that was okay. What you couldn't be was a bore. When we wanted to damn somebody, call him the worst possible name, we would say, ‘bore hai’"... It was London that let him shape his life with his various assorted odd jobs and friendship with men and women later to be more in number.. Self taught and hardworking, reading in depth about authors and political developments in Britain  laid a strong foundation to his rich experiences and vantage that we get to see today...His confession of fathering a child and refusing to stay by his girlfriend when she refused for abortion made me wish that someday he get to meet his daughter...First part of the book with his childhood and life abroad is very interesting and fun..


Getting back to India, his efforts of self publishing a book (which he is not proud of ) "Bombay a private view" , then a biography about Sanjay Gandhi The Sanjay story,and Meenakumari became controversial...His first job was as an editor in debonair (Indian playboy version) where he managed to get published some sensible articles in spite of the magazine that it carried , where he had to write under different pseudonym still maintaining the center page of the magazine of nude girls..  But during emergency he was asked to make it decent and this is how he described the model in the center spread "The breasts were covered with an ugly, dense dupatta. The Emergency had taken its toll on our naked women"..


But as he moves on to become the most sacked editor from The Sunday Observer-Independent-Indian post-Pioneer and finally to The outlook (where he currently serves as an adviser after he resigned from the the post of editor for 17 years)the book misses the personal element (may be he was completely into work)becoming largely professional with lots of insight about the well known name which is thoroughly entertaining...His statement of being a gossip monger aptly fits in..Throughout his career he has witnessed many famous rows and hosted some like that between Willaim Dalrymple and Ramachandra Guha most famously Between V.S Naipaul (Mehta's good friend) and Salman Rushidi are amusingly good read..The best part are the work behind the scene of making and working with some of the sensational scoop that stirred the entire nation from cricket match fixing to revelations of Niira Radia's tape, 2G spectrum, Moraji Desai's other side, , Narasimha Rao's writing skill certainly makes the reader smile..There are not just success stories but also some blunders like Y.B Chawan and exit poll result  predictions being always wrong etc etc...


The Chapter "Sweepers Wisdom" is a rich read where he offers his piece of mind to the young Journalist..


Throughout the book I felt an anti BJP spirit running all wide and strong and a slight lean towards Congress, especially Sonia Gandhi,he tries to justify it with the statement that a journalist cannot hate every politician..His sense of humour is all through the book even through the candid moments when he gets sacked and his rift with the proprietor helping the book stay tuned into life...His naming his pet dog editor is one among the situation where he makes self mockery with deep meaning...


All in all the book has every element to keep you reading and had it not been for this memoir I wouldn't have known the outstanding life of Vinod Mehta...

2 comments:

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    Replies
    1. thank you...will try to keep up....

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