Posts Tagged ‘HT’

Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses & India Today

22 September 2012

The launch of Salman Rushdie‘s memoirs, Joseph Anton, written in third person, has seen a flurry of TV interviews, and profiles, reviews and soft stories in the newspapers.

Hindustan Times runs this short excerpt from the book which chronicles how The Satanic Verses ended up getting banned in India:

On the day he received the bound proofs of The Satanic Verses he was visited at home on St Peter’s Street by a journalist he thought of as a friend, Madhu Jain of India Today.

When she saw the thick, dark blue cover with the large red title she grew extremely excited, and pleaded to be given a copy so that she could read it while on holiday in England with her husband. And once she had read it she demanded that she be allowed to interview him and that India Today be allowed to publish an extract.

Again, he agreed.

For many years afterwards he thought of this publication as the match that lit the fire.

And certainly the magazine highlighted what came to be seen as the book’s ‘controversial’ aspects, using the headline AN UNEQUIVOCAL ATTACK ON RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM, which was the first of innumerable inaccurate descriptions of the book’s contents, and, in another headline, ascribing a quote to him – MY THEME IS FANATICISM – that further misrepresented the work.

The last sentence of the article, ‘The Satanic Verses is bound to trigger an avalanche of protests…’ was an open invitation for those protests to begin.

Madhu Jain offers an explanation in Open magazine:

When I returned to Delhi my editor in India Today asked me to write a review before anybody else did. Since the book was yet to be launched, I called Salman in London for permission to publish a review. He said yes….

Unfortunately, the editor of the books pages of the magazine at the time, who later went on to edit a national daily, plucked some of the more volatile extracts from the novel—those about the Prophet’s wives—and inserted them into the book review.

Not too long after the IFS bureaucrat-turned-politician Syed Shahabuddin read the excerpts (not the book as he admitted ) and demanded that The Satanic Verses be banned. Protests erupted in India and Pakistan.

In Karachi, a few protesters died when they were fired upon. It is believed that Ayatollah Khomeini watched this on television and ordered the fatwa.

Madhu Jain writes that Rushdie stopped talking to her after the review and even snubbed her when she offered an explanation of what had happened.

But in Joseph Anton (pages 112-13), Rushdie writes:

“With the passage of time came forgiveness. Rereading the India Today piece many years later, in a calmer time, he would concede the piece was fairer than the magazine’s headline writer had made it look, more balanced than its last sentence. Those who wished to be offended would have been offended anyway. Those who were looking to be inflamed would have found the necessary spark.

“Perhaps the magazine’s most damaging act was to break the traditional publishing embargo and print its piece nine days before the book’s publication, at a time when not a single copy had arrived in India. This allowed Mr Shahabuddin and his ally, another opposition MP named Khurshid Alam Khan, free rein. They could say whatever they pleased about the book, but it could not be read and therefore could not be defended.

“One man who had read an advance copy, the journalist Khushwant Singh, called for a ban in the Illustrated Weekly of India as a measure to prevent trouble. He thus became the first member of the small group of world writers who joined the censorship lobby. Khushwant Singh further claimed that he had been asked for his advice by Penguin and had warned the author and publishers of the consequences of publication.

“The author was unaware of any such warning. if it was ever given, it was never received.”

Read the HT review: Joseph Anton

Madhu Jain: The deadly review

‘Bollywood journalism is about PR & pimping’

19 February 2011

Nandita Puri, journalist and wife of actor Om Puri, in an interview in Tehelka magazine:

Q: What are the biggest problems in Bollywood journalism today?

A: Bollywood journalism is about PR and pimping. Of course, stars have glamours personal lives everyone wants to know about, but now that has become the core of film reportage. Occasionally, you hear about an actor doing a good job. There is a very sleazy side to it. They raise a person to the sky and when the PR companies are off the payroll, they hit back. The media is on a high now but eventually it will get exhausted.

Also read: Khalid Mohamed on ToI, DNA, HT and the stars

It takes 3 Idiots to call the bluff of pauper tigers

Jug Suraiya takes on Amitabh Bachchan

Singer accuses reviewer of sexual assault

Has DNA got rid of a ‘pesky’ film reviewer?

9 December 2009

The film critic turned film maker Khalid Mohamed throws light on some unsavoury developments involving a member of his fraternity in the Bombay newspaper, DNA:

On Wednesday afternoon, critic Udita Jhunjhunwala (in picture), was missing from the press screening of Himesh Reshammiya’s Radio. She did not go to the next day’s show of Paa either.

“The last review she did for DNA, the daily newspaper, was for Kurbaan.

“This is not to suggest that the less-than-enthusiastic review of Kurbaan had anything to do with the exit of Udita from DNA. The reasons can only be explained by the newspaper. The upright, well-reasoned Udita has in the last seven years I have known her done her job with more than diligence. Before that she was with Hindustan Times and earlier at Mid-Day where she first made her mark as a forthright reviewer.

“Last week, she had phoned up the DNA desk to inform them of the number of reviews she would be mailing in. She was merely told her that her services were no longer needed. In her place Taran Adarsh would be doing the Hindi film reviews, presumably because he also does the TV shows for ETC channel, a subsidiary of Zee which has major stakes in the DNA newspaper.”

For the record, Khalid Mohamed, longtime film critic of The Times of India, was a member of the editorial board of DNA before leaving it to join Hindustan Times.

Photograph: courtesy Screen Daily

Read the full post: Praise or be damned

Follow Udita Jhunjhunwala on Twitter

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