Wife-beater? Freeloader? Menace to society?

Restaurants are now suing newspapers for bad reviews claiming “defamation” and loss of business. But how should authors respond to bad reviews? Should they just be thankful for the publicity? Should they get into a slanging match with the reviewer and hope for the best?

Should they, as Shobhaa De, the author of “Superstar India” has done, get personal?

De’s latest book has got a poor review in India’s leading English magazines, India Today and Outlook. India Today‘s reviewer tore into the book calling it “the worst thing she has written” and said its subtitle “From Incredible to Unstoppable” made him wonder if it was commissioned by the ministry of tourism. Outlook‘s reviewer called it “quite mediocre” and said it read like a “teenager’s diary”. Etcetera.

But De, former editor of the film magazine Stardust (and the shortlived Celebrity), and the woman who has worn titles such as Sultana of Scuttlebutt and “Maharani of Muck” with aplomb, goes below the belt in response.

In an interview with Arathi Menon of Deccan Herald today, De is asked of the unkind reviews that have greeted the book in India. Her response?

“The particular review you are referring to (in a leading magazine) is a personal attack on me. The person who wrote it is a wife-beater; a freeloader; a frustrated has-been and a menace to society. There are other ratings that have already put the book on the best-seller list. So do I really care about that interview?”

As the pioneer of bitchy page 3 journalism, Shobhaa De of course doesn’t name the reviewer or the publication, but if the reviewer/s had given a good review of the book, would De have been enlightening the world with such vengeance in public?

Is the reviewer’s past or present relevant to the debate at all? Or should she be answering the criticism of the reviewer?

Photograph: courtesy Newsline, Pakistan

Read the India Today review here: De turns into night

Read Shobhaa De’s interview here: 60 years young

Also read: Singer Sonu Nigam accuses reviewer Subhash K. Jha of “sexual assault”


  1. Mysore Peshva

    The reviewer’s past is irrelevant. Bobb’s review amounts to fair comment protected by qualified privilege.

    Shobha De’s ad hominem attack, instead of any sensible defense of her work, shows her to be a crybaby.

    But I’m afraid Sans Serif has committed libel. This post meets the requirements of actionable libel (identification, publication, defamation) and a provable fault of negligence. It is not even a republication, because DH did not publish Bobb’s name.

    You can do better, Sans Serif!

  2. Arathi Menon

    This is not the review (India Today) we discussed about.

  3. Mysore Peshva

    Amitabh Bachchan hit below the belt to retaliate against Khalid Mohammed’s HT review of Bhootnath:

    “As you spread yourself across our dining table in Jalsa, sipping our, in your own words, ‘exclusive and expensive wine’, this is what I have to say to you – ‘BOO’ !!!”

    Bachchan’s blog (post dated May 10) suggests that Mohammed had a more-than-professional relationship with Bachchan.

    Moral of the story: If you are a journalist/reviewer and you turn filmmaker or otherwise join your subjects’ fraternity, quit reviewing!

  4. Shoba De is part and parcel of that page-3 sleazy culture. She has only shown her true colours when she spewed venom on that reviewer, just because he didn’t give a favourable review to her book. Pathetic!

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