Sharp; insightful; shocking; delightful … In this sparkling memoir; Vinod Mehta; India’s most independent; principled – and irreverent – editor finally tells his own story. And by any reckoning; it is an extraordinary story. Mehta grew up as ...
grew up as an insouciant army brat from a Punjabi refugee family; in the syncretic culture of Lucknow of the 1950s—an experience that turned him into an unflagging ‘pseudo secularist’. Leaving home with a BA third class degree; he experimented with a string of jobs; including that of a factory hand in suburban Britain; before accepting an offer to edit Debonair; a journal best known for featuring naked women. With the eclecticism and flair that were to become his hallmark; he turned it into an intelligent; lively magazine; while managing to keep fans of its centrespreads happy. The next three decades saw Vinod Mehta becoming one of India’s most widely-read and influential editors; as he launched a number of successful new publications; from the now legendary Sunday Observer to the weekly newsmagazine; Outlook.
This remarkably candid memoir; with its ringside view of many of the major events of our times; brims over with wit; wisdom; scandal and gossip. Mehta recounts with zest how he was wooed and then summarily sacked by sundry media proprietors when their much-vaunted respect for editorial freedom broke down in the face of political pressures. There are riveting accounts of his encounters with personalities from the worlds of politics; business; films and the media. There are masterly pen portraits of personalities ranging from Shobhaa De to V.S. Naipaul; Salman Rushdie and Sonia Gandhi. ( And of course; Mehta’s dog Editor who now; like his master; gets quantities of fan and hate mail.) There are the stories behind the scoops Mehta has brought before a fascinated public; from the alleged mole in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet; to the cricket match-fixing scandal; to the Radia Tapes.
Embedded within these racy tales are thoughtful insights on Indian politics and society. There are valuable lessons; too; in Mehta’s inside stories of his successful media launches; in his tips for aspiring journalists; and in his struggles for editorial independence through his nearly four-decade-long tryst with Indian journalism.
Number of pages: 344
Date of publication: 01/01/2011
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