Jug Suraiya. What do I say about the man, who was one of my idols during my formative years…one of the inspiration to take up journalism! Let me tell you a secret…I actually tried to imitate the style of his writing during my school essays…and fests and competitions…and it won’t be exaggeration to say that I actually grew up with “Jugular Vein”…and with the heavy philosophies said in the usual flippant style.
The fact that now I have to review his latest book is a mixed feeling. It’s funny…and kinda scary…but anyway! Here it goes!
The latest book is a “worm’s eye view of Indian journalism”. That should be enough for you to understand, what sort of “revelations” about India journalism this book contains.
This is not a gold mine…people. This is a minefield! Trust me…when I say…it contains some serious stuff. In a subtle and sarcastic, and at times scathingly caustic way ofcourse…
Who all were targeted? All. Everyone. From Vir Sanghvi to C.R. Irani, from H.K.Dua, to the who’s who of TOI and Statesman, everyone received flak. Especially C. R. Irani, and quite rightly so. (I personally despise the man, for ruining the Statesman with his idiotic dogmatism, and uncompromising and unchanging style… ) I remember the Caveat columns of Statesman, I was a student co-ordinator for Voices then, which used to come out every Thursday with “The Paper”…till then the most read and respected journalism institution in India.
Told in the typical whimsical and witty style…this book contains stuff meant for patient, matured, and intelligent readers. It doesn’t contain history…it IS history. It charts down the parallel travel of two of the most important schools of journalistic style in India, the Times of India and the Statesman, along with the change of Indian journalism over the decades, to the substandard language and general trash churning now. (The author even laments at one point on the rape of the Queen’s language, that happens these days. And I guess he is right. There is no such thing as American English, SMS English, Gangsta English etc…there is English, and there are mistakes…ah! I’m deviating again!)
Overall…it is a gem. I guess I might be biased about the author…but I am not giving out any details or spoilers, as I generally do with other books I review. ‘Cause I actually want everyone to read this one. Yes, buy and read. You ought to do that. Not because he is my favourite author. But because we need to know history…and the way journalistic ethics, values, and obviously the English language got destroyed in the ever changing trajectory of time.
Four and a half out of five. No wait. You don’t need ratings for this one. I repeat. Read.
( This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program. )