Lucknow Boy Sub title: A Memoir Author: Vinod Mehta-penguin india
"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 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. "