Tag Archives: Khushwant Singh

The Khushwant Singh “pre-obituary” from 1983

Khushwant Singh, the self-proclaimed “dirty old man of Indian journalism”, has passed away at his home in New Delhi, at the age of 99. Exactly, 30 years ago, when Singh was 69, the journalist Dhiren Bhagat wrote a pre-obituary of the “sardar in the light bulb” for the now-defunct Sunday Observer. Ironically, Dhiren Bhagat was…

Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses & India Today

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…

Shobha De tears into Vinod Mehta in India Today

There are two tried and tested formulas for commissioning reviews in the shockingly incestuous bordello of Indian books that has now spread its wings into Indian journalism. The supposedly dignified formula is to get an author’s friend or associate to do the unctuous needful (say a Khushwant Singh to “review” a David Davidar) so that…

Good morning, it’s time to go back to bed?

Just because 96-year-old Khushwant Singh called it the “most readable daily in the world” recently, it doesn’t mean the matter is closed and beyond debate. Far from it. The Times of India thankfully thinks just the opposite of Singh “insofaras The Hindu is concerned” in this new TV commercial for ToI‘s three-year-old Madras edition. With the punchline “Stuck…

Vinod Mehta on Arun Shourie, Dileep Padgaonkar

“India’s most independent, principled and irreverent editor” Vinod Mehta has just published a memoir. Titled Lucknow Boy, the editor-in-chief  of the Outlook* group of magazines, recaptures his four-decade journalistic journey via Debonair, The Sunday Observer, The Indian Post,  The Independent and The Pioneer. With trademark candour often bordering on the salacious, the twice-married but childless Mehta reveals that he fathered a child in…

The Hindu: the most readable daily in the world?

Khushwant Singh may have decided to no longer write his weekly columns, but the “dirty old man of Indian journalism” has not said he will stop writing for good. He has shot off a letter to the editor of The Hindu, which the family-owned paper, given its recent and continuing turmoil, has gladly boxed on…

The ‘sardar in the lightbulb’ signs out suddenly

Seventy years after he started needling readers and 42 years after he wrote his first column, the “sardar in the lightbulb” will shine no more. Khushwant Singh, the dirty old man of Indian journalism, says he is now too old (and maybe just a little less dirty) to dish out malice towards one and all…

Why Khushwant Singh fell out with Arun Shourie

Khushwant Singh, former editor of Hindustan Times and the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India, on why he is no longer friends with Arun Shourie, the Magsaysay Award-winning former editor of Indian Express, in the Hindustan Times: “There was a time when I was a frequent diner in the Shouries’ household in Delhi…. At one of the…

‘The most prolific journalist of our times’

Khushwant Singh on his Illustrated Weekly of India protege M.J. Akbar, in The Telegraph, Calcutta, the “unputdownable” Calcutta paper founded by Akbar in 1982: “M.J. Akbar must be the most prolific journalist of our times. He heads the editorial board of India Today, edits The Sunday Guardian financed by Ram Jethmalani, and writes for many…

Khushwant Singh stands up for Barkha Dutt, again

For the second time in five months, Khushwant Singh, the former editor of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India, stands up for the beleaguered NDTV group editor and anchor, Barkha Dutt, in Hindustan Times: “I shudder to think what would be left of Indian television if Barkha Dutt decides to call it a day. “For…

Prabhu Chawla: My greatest feat, and failure

A fresh selection of media questions from readers to the editorial director of The New Indian Express group, Prabhu Chawla, and answered with trademark candour. Vol 1. No III. *** Q: Why did you quit India Today group? I am asking this question because I am a big fan of your show Sidhi Baat. A:…

Why an editor took two empty suitcases to Libya

There is little doubt, as the Niira Radia tapes showed, that journalistic integrity in India is at an all-time low—despite the manifold increase in salaries—especially since the liberalisation process began in 1991 and the notional capital of the media moved from Bombay to Delhi. Whispers of editors who own power plants and mines, of reporters…

Khalid Mohamed on ToI, DNA, HT and the stars

Khalid Mohamed, longtime film critic of The Times of India and sometime editor of Filmfare—who hopped over to DNA and then to Hindustan Times in Bombay after making four films in the interim—talks about his 32 years in journalism and the stars he met along the way, in the January issue of Society magazine. #…

Salmaan Taseer: The Tavleen Singh connection

Indian media reports of the assassination of the Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer have been deferentially silent on his “Indian connection”—his dalliance with the columnist Tavleen Singh. Although Twitter is abuzz, most newspapers (including The Indian Express, which carries Singh’s column on Sundays) have preferred to ignore any mention of the cross-border connection. Except… An IANS…

Barkha Dutt tarred by pure malice: Khushwant

Battered by one and all but one, Barkha Dutt, the NDTV anchor caught on tape in l’affaire Niira Radia, gets some much-needed support, but from the dirty old man of Indian journalism, her Hindustan Times co-columnist Khushwant Singh. But unlike the editors guild president Rajdeep Sardesai who blamed it on “envy”, Singh attributes it to…

Penguin sacks ex-Gentleman, David Davidar

David Davidar, the former magazine journalist who rose to become publisher of such stellar Indian literary names as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Khushwant Singh and Shobha De, has been sacked from Penguin Canada following charges of sexual harassment. Davidar, 52, part of the team at the now defunct monthly, Gentleman launched by Minhaz…

Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

Fareed Zakaria, the Bombay-born editor of Newsweek International and the host of CNN’s GPS, has been decorated with India’s third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan. Zakaria’s name finds mention in the annual Republic Day honours’ list released by the ministry of home affairs. Zakaria, whose mother Fatma Zakaria was one of the stellar names…

How a Hindu-Muslim journo-couple live, let live

Khushwant Singh in The Telegraph, Calcutta, introduces former Mid-Day deputy editor Pinki Virani‘s fourth book, Deaf Heaven: “Pinki Virani is a Muslim. Her husband, V. Shankar Aiyar, a senior executive with India Today, is a Tamil-Brahmin. When I met Pinki for the first time, I asked her how the marriage was working out since both…

Man who educated Bombay journalists is dead

sans serif records the demise of T.N. Shanbhag, the founder of Bombay’s legendary book store, Strand Book Stall, in Bombay on Friday morning. He was 84. Mr Shanbhag, who was once so poor that he couldn’t afford 75 paise to buy a paperback, built his enterprise, now happily expanded to Bangalore and Mysore, on the…

T.S. NAGARAJAN: The Sharada Prasad only I knew

More than a few people have been intrigued by sans serif‘s description of H.Y. Sharada Prasad as the ultimate exemplar of the “Mysore School of Writing“—not too light, not too heavy. And the questions have come flying at us: Is there really such a thing as “Mysore School of Writing”, like the Mysore School of…