Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Bombs



In Archeology, they say, you uncover the unknown. And in politics you cover the known. But once you are away from the limelight of politics, you become an ‘archeopoligist’ - someone who loves to uncover the known. A great way to uncover the known is to publish a memoir. With the regime change, the disgruntled loyalists have gathered enough courage to come up with such memoirs

In four days, Natwar Singh’s autobiography has sold 50,000 copies. With sales kissing the sky, the publisher is going in for re-prints. Wonder who is buying the book. I doubt if the aam janta is really interested in knowing about Sonia’s tumultuous inner conscience. People know that politics is not for saints. In public memory, the halo of her renunciation faded with the tightening grip of the remote control. That her word was the last word in the party is known. That she was cold towards Narasimha Rao is also known. Revelations about US interference, ally anger and power equations hold journalistic interest, but the common man remains unconcerned.

However, a scandalous political memoir provides enough fodder for the television channels. If interviewing Natwar was not enough, Karan Thapar grilled Mani Shankar to confirm whether Sonia is actually stern or ruthless. Perhaps it is the enigma surrounding her that intrigues journalists. Sometimes I feel that a book is of little importance unless it is dissected on television. Since most channels were dissecting the memoir, Natwar Singh realized that ‘One Life Is Not Enough’. God bless his intellect, he now plans to write a spicier sequel ‘My Irregular Diary’ with ‘more disclosures’. After drinking copious power pegs, political ignominy can be nerve racking. On the other hand, the media spotlight coupled with sales can be truly inspiring.

Now that the Mrs. Gandhi plans to write a memoir, the media is salivating at the prospect. The television journalists can froth at the mouth, but I doubt if Sonia, unlike Baru or Natwar will take the television route. The family has paid a huge price for that one historic Times Now interview.
Needless to say, a personal diary is not personal anymore. Sharmistha Mukherjee, the President’s daughter told a news channel that her father would not reveal the details of his forty year old diary. My daddy will not do a Natwar, she says. Which means that her father has something to say but he won’t? Why so? Wink. Wink. Forget it, we know. It may also mean that she is issuing a veiled warning! We don’t know.
Meanwhile Manmohan Singh’s daughter, Daman Singh, defends her father in, ‘Strictly Personal, Manmohan & Gursharan’. When Karan Thapar interviewed the lady in, 'Nothing But The Truth' on Headlines Today, she gave away nothing. Not a word about Dr. Singhs working relationship with Sonia Gandhi. The book is unlikely to create a buzz, given that it is an innocuous biography minus the scandals.
The truth is that when an author views his own life from a high perch, the ego is likely to overshadow reason. The temptation of self indulgence is so overpowering that you tend to highlight your own triumphs. And when you do so, you are likely to step on neighboring toes. Finally, all these political memoirs will end in ‘my word against yours’.

 Revenge, a Bollywood motif, is being played via memoirs, albeit with a twist. Unlike the producers, it is the publishers who are making the moolah.

38 comments:

  1. Its all about revenge and also how can I forget the moolah ... But yes I do wonder who is interested in reading these...? I'm certainly not...

    Random Thoughts Naba - Trivialize No More!...

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    1. What if UPA was still in power? I doubt if such memoirs would see the light.

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    2. Alka you know how many criminal allegations were made against Baba Ramdev and his assistant when UPA was in power?Why would a sane politician-even if doddering-take that risk?

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  2. Like you aptly put it, it'my word against yours".. so now if mudslinging in the Parliament or in Media wasn't enough, lets resort to writing memoirs about it.. publishers get their moolah and news channels their TRPs.. the common man anyways doesn't care any more.. the show just goes on.

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    1. Yeah, who cares!
      Thanks for reading Seeta.

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  3. Memoirs are no longer about charting your life’s journey. It’s all about trumpeting about your triumphs, presenting your side of the story (real or imaginary) and most importantly about putting others down. It’s all about revenge and slander now with a whole lot of ego involved.
    Totally tongue in cheek Alka !

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    1. Ruch if the media had not made such a hue and cry, no one would have cared about the book.
      Like sex, controversy sells. But who cares really?

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  4. Seamless merging of facts with opinion. Just enough words, almost journalistic in narration, with a deadly first paragraph and food for thought in the last. You are blessed to have a writing style that no one else can master. I found this very crisp and hitting the right marks.

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    1. Any praise coming from you means a lot Sakshi.

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  5. I think it is the whole army of politicians who are buying this book. Or the political watch birds. Or may be the hoarding has started here too.

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    1. Yeah, they know how to milk the media and vice versa for their own advantage.

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  6. Really quite pointless the entire exercise for a common person. Everyone else has their hand in the pile of cash. About Natwar -- Nau sau choohe khake billi haj ko chali.

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    1. You said it.
      Reminds me of a Chinese proverb Rachna, " He who seeks vengeance digs two graves - one for the enemy and one for himself."

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  7. Well Alka, let me put it this way, if I were a popular person who was accustomed to be in the news at least once a week, and then I am asked to give up this 'popularity' and being in the public eye due to political compulsions, I surely have a bone to pick. And what better way to do it than to write a damning book filled with supposed secret truths.

    And as the saying goes, no publicity is bad publicity. The book sells, the publisher is happy, TV channels are happy, I get my royalties and my rightful place under the sun, the accused gets her sound bytes on TV, all are happy now. In a couple of months, the book will be forgotten, as by then Ravi Subramanian and Chetan Bhagat would have launched their latest books :)

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    1. I wonder how strong libel laws are in our country. Wouldn't it have just been easier for Sonia Gandhi to simply drag Natwar Singh to court than to write a whole book for refuting allegations?
      For one, it is so tedious to even find a bleddy publisher these days. Ask me how tedious! :D

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    2. Jairam, he is reveling in the new found limelight. It's a win win alright.

      Rickie, you are right. With Sibal and Singhvi, she can file a defamation case. But I guess it makes more sense for her to deal with the National Herald case and the Swamy's of this world. The smaller barbs can be dealt with a book. For lesser mortals, publishers act pricey but for her book, publishers across the world will be more than willing.

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    3. Considering your write-up is far more wittier than any literary masterpiece Natwar Singh has penned, he should consider hiring you to sing his praises. It will be a refreshing change from his usual dull style.

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    4. After several years as external affairs minister, I am sure he has lots of insider information. Two things. One is about the timing and the other about side stepping the issue of his own controversial Iraq issue. But then most memoirs are about self indulgence.

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  8. Revenge and catharsis--but no mention of his own doings !

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    1. Most memoirs are about self indulgence.
      Reminds me of a Chinese proverb Indu, " He who seeks vengeance digs two graves - one for the enemy and one for himself."

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  9. Who is buying their books? I bet, they are hoarding it themselves.

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  10. I want to read this book. Just to see how much truth is in it. And yes, readers can read between the lines :)

    Destination Infinity

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    1. I haven't read the entire book, just snippets. I am sure there is a lot to read in between the lines.

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  11. Love the term, Archeopologist. No wonder, revenge can be both sweet and lethal in politics. I doubt whether Sonia Madam will pen her own side of the story, hitting at Natwar Singh. Politics is your forte Alka and loove how u made the post so bang on:)

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    1. Thank you Vishaal, I enjoy political posts too. Sadly not many readers for such posts.

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  12. The stories that we often tell ourselves, to explain why we feel in a particular way, the way we do are often just that, stories.

    So, enjoy the show, if one pulls the strings, it isn't possible that other strings don't strain. :-)

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. Yeah, it's a season of memoirs. Guess the Silent One is mulling on writing one too.

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  13. JUSTIFICATION for their own acts and pushing the ally further down the pit.
    That seems to the only reason.

    All we can do is watch the tamasha.

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  14. "The family has paid a huge price for that one historic Times Now interview." That sums up the possibility of book coming out in response. As for the book and its contents, one has to ask whether its unbiased or written by a person who lost his ticket to get on to the gravy train. Also when your defence comes from a man who makes a rabid dog look very sane, its best to croak out a reply :).

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    1. He did board the gravy train for a long time. The inside story might never come out. Meanwhile the allegations and counter allegations will continue to come out in memoirs.
      Thank you for reading Sriram.

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  15. For me watching and analysing politicians is a like watching Ektaa Kapoor serials.
    But,I must say,Natwar had planned his strategy well.
    As someone said......he first marinated the stuff and then grilled it..In the process,Sonia has been left with hot plates

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    1. He did but not many takers for his barbecue!
      :)

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  16. :) all i can do is smile at this..
    to me it just shows the character of a person all this time he was going ga ga over sonia , how she was this and that , and then his book comes .. so what is to be beleived what he SPOKE of or what he WROTE :)

    I feel all politicians are Liars and will do anything and make up anything just to gain an extra mileage.. i mean congress is set on gandhian principles .. then going public and doing all this is surly against gandhian principles :)

    just my two cents of thoughts

    Bikram's

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  17. Any significance of these books on the aam admi? Nah! These memoirs just provide fodder for the channels to have some decent TRP :P And we do need some entertainment, right? How long do politicians laugh at our expense, let's have something to giggle too *giggles*

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  18. I look at all this as ways and means to garner attention. For the news channels it is the TRPs (the sad state of the news channels today, at least some of them) and people have found out that being infamous and easier than being famous (for the right reasons). Being amidst controversies would definitely put one in the limelight for a while. Pathetic.

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